Philippines has ratified the following documents:
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The following documents further define the obligations of Philippines:
  • Beijing +5: Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Beijing Platform for Action
  • Cairo Programme of Action
  • UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The documents listed above require Philippines to protect and promote the following rights:

Right to development
Right to education
Right to equal protection of the law
Right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment
Right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
Right to housing
Right to just and favorable work conditions
Right to liberty and security of the person
Right to life and survival
Right to marry and found a family
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of age
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability (i.e. HIV positive)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
Right to private and family life
Right to receive and impart information
Right to the benefits of scientific progress

Constitutional Protection of Rights

The Constitution of Philippines can be viewed at

The Constitution of the Philippines is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The Constitution enables the Philippines to translate international agreements into domestic law, and obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates.

The Constitution provides for the protection of the following rights, among others. This empowers individuals in making reproductive health decisions, and helps create the economic and social conditions conducive to good sexual and reproductive health.

Right to a clean and healthy environment (art. II section 16)
Right to an adequate standard of housing (art. XIII section 9)
Right to education (art. XIV section 1)
Right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (art. III section 12(2), in relation to trial and detention, and art. III section 19(2))
Right to freedom of association (art. III section 8)
Right to freedom of expression (art. III section 4)
Right to freedom of movement (art. III section 6)
Right to found a family (art. XV section 1)
Right to health (art. II section 15)
Right to just and favorable working conditions (art. XIII section 3)
Right to liberty and security (art. III section 1)
Right to life (art. III section 1)
Right to own private property (art. III section 1)
Right to participate in the affairs of government (art. XIII section 16)
Right to privacy (art. III section 3)
Right to receive information (art. III section 7)
Right to seek and obtain redress for violations of rights (art. III section 4)

The Constitution includes other provisions that promote and protect rights relevant for good sexual and reproductive health.

The Constitution empowers women by requiring the Philippines to:

  • recognize "the role of women in nation-building" and "ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men" (art. II section 14)
  • "protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation" (art. XIII section 14).

Many principles of state policy are useful to further a policy environment conducive to good sexual and reproductive health. The Constitution directs the Philippines to:
  • "protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution," and "equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception" (art. II section 12)
  • promote and protect the development of youth and encourage their "involvement in public and civic affairs" (art. II section 13)
  • protect and promote "the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them" (art. II section 15)

The Constitution obliges the Philippines to take a number of measures regarding public health (art. XIII, sections 11-13). The Philippines must:
  • "adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development"
  • "endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost"
  • give priority to "the needs of the under-privileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children"
  • "endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers"
  • "establish and maintain an effective food and drug regulatory system"
  • "undertake appropriate health, manpower development, and research, responsive to the country's health needs and problems"
  • "establish a special agency for disabled person for their rehabilitation, self-development, and self-reliance, and their integration into the mainstream of society"
How can this be used? Whether this provision would apply to persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS requires additional research. For further research and information, please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

The Constitution addresses a number of social issues that relate to the underlying determinants of ill-health. It directs the Philippines to:

  • adopt policies that "provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all" (art. II section 9)
  • "promote social justice in all phases of national development" (art. II section 10)
  • value "the dignity of every human person" and guarantee "full respect for human rights" (art. II section 11)
  • recognize and protect the family as a social institution (art. XV)
  • "promote comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform" (art. II section 21)
  • "give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good" (art. XIII section 1)
  • protect labor, promote full employment and ensure equality of opportunity for all (art. XIII section 3)
  • provide adequate and affordable housing to under-privileged and homeless citizens, and to provide them with employment opportunities (art. XIII section 9)

A number of principles of state policy support work with the private sector and civil society organizations. The Philippines must:
  • recognize "the indispensable role of the private sector," encourage private enterprise, and provide "incentives to needed investments" (art. II section 20)
  • encourage non-governmental, community-based, or sectoral organizations that promote the welfare of the nation (art. II section 23)
  • ensure "the right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them"

Other principles of state policy aim to promote good governance in the conduct of public affairs and public decision-making:
  • "maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption" (art. II section 27)
  • adopt and implement "a policy of full public disclosure of all [?] transactions involving public interest" (art. II section 28)

The Constitution provides for the creation of a Human Rights Commission with many powers of investigation, consultation, adoption of measures necessary to protect human rights, and monitoring respect of the Philippines' international human rights obligations (art. XIII section 17).
How can this be used? This provision creates a powerful enforcement mechanism which advocates can use to advance sexual and reproductive health agendas. Moreover, it is the value added of human rights to public health to make public authorities accountable for failing to ensure rights. For additional research or information, please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

However, the Constitution allows restrictions to rights in certain cases.

The Constitution authorizes restrictions to the right to freedom of movement on the grounds of public health (art. III section 6).

What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions to rights, it is acknowledged that the Philippines may be confronted with situations that will entail an infringement on rights. In such situations, the Philippines may take measures to address a public health problem without violating its own constitution. Restrictions are authorized under international law if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the restriction is provided for and carried out in accordance with the law
  2. the restriction is in the interest of a legitimate objective of general interest (e.g., the protection of public health)
  3. the restriction is strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve the objective
  4. there are no less restrictive means available to reach the same objective
  5. the restriction is not drafted or imposed arbitrarily, i.e. in an unreasonable or otherwise discriminatory manner