Legislative Advocacy for Refugees and Stateless Persons

The Ateneo Human Rights Center, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is implementing a legislative advocacy campaign for the pursuit of a rights-based policy, legal, and operational framework for refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, stateless applicants, and persons at risk of statelessness, collectively known as persons of concern (POCs).

The Philippines has been consistent in its commitment to leave no one behind as seen in the developments of a rights-based legal framework for refugees, stateless persons, asylum seekers, stateless applicants, and persons at risk of statelessness (collectively known as Persons of Concern or POCs). However, while it is a State Party to various international human rights law instruments and while general laws and ad hoc policies have been put in place, there remains a gap in terms of specific legislative measures to make these rights enforceable and to operationalize mechanisms by which the vulnerable groups and populations can access these rights. Cognizant of these legislative gaps, the following are priority measures to be pursued in the 18th Congress:

  1. Accession to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
  2. Comprehensive Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Bill;
  3. Facilitated (Administrative) Naturalization for Refugees and Stateless Persons Bill;
  4. Gender-Responsive Amendments to Naturalization Bill; and
  5. Recognition of Presumed Philippine Citizenship for Foundlings.

With a whole of society approach at its core, AHRC has conducted various advocacy activities including, but not limited to, organizing coordination meetings with Congress, government agencies, and other stakeholders, including persons of concerns themselves, developing advocacy and communication materials (e.g., infographics, policy briefs, art cards, video clips, etc.), and organizing webinars or other similar learning sessions.

A four-part webinar series entitled “Borderless Perspectives: A Conversation Series on Understanding and Advocating for the Rights and Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons in the Philippines” was organized in September – November 2021 to raise public awareness on the plight of refugees and stateless persons and communicate the need to strengthen the Philippine legal framework for their protection. It covered topics on:

  • Broadening Perspectives: Understanding the Context of Refugees and Stateless Persons – Provided an introduction on refugees, stateless persons, and other persons of concern from the Philippine and international perspectives.
  • Treading the Web: Mapping the Issues and Understanding the Intersectionality of Vulnerabilities of Refugees and Stateless Persons – Focused on the various intersecting vulnerabilities and issues faced by refugees, stateless persons, persons at risk of being stateless, and other persons of concern.  
  • Sharing the Space: Towards a Whole of Society Approach and Understanding the Role of Community in Advancing the Rights of Persons of Concern – Highlighted the whole-of-society approach framework employed by the government and civil society organizations in promoting and protecting the rights of persons of concern to ensure a socially inclusive environment for all.
  • Strengthening Our Commitment: Advocating for Stronger Legislative Framework for a Rights-based and Sensitive Durable Solutions for Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Other Persons of Concern – Emphasized the legislative reform priorities for the protection of persons of concern by looking at the experience of persons with lived experiences and the State representatives.