Top 5 Filipino professions incorporating Human Rights in their field

Make your passion your profession and success will chase you, pants down” –quote from the Bollywood film, The Three Idiots.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest producers of dedicated professionals, among these are the proud men and women upholding Human Rights. Defending and honoring the rights of each person and preserving the value of human dignity and equality.

Who are these individuals you ask? One may think that the people rallying and protesting against violations have the only impact on Human Rights order in the Philippines. But no – the Filipinos fail to acknowledge the devoted professionals who every day of their lives deal with Human Rights.

If you, as a fellow Pinoy are considering lending a hand in the field of Human Rights and wish to pursue a career that matches such a passion, here are the ranked top 5 professions who incorporate Human Rights in their everyday work:

#5 – BUSINESSES

 “Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will” – Jim Goodnight (CEO, SAS)

It is through the employer-employee relationship wherein one of the fundamentals of the rights of man presides: the right to work and earn a living for his self.

In JMM Promotion and Management, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, The court held that:

“…A profession, trade or calling is a property right within the meaning of our constitutional guarantees. One cannot be deprived of the right to work and the right to make a living because these rights are property rights, the arbitrary and unwarranted deprivation of which normally constitutes an actionable wrong…”

These rights are often forgotten because even when it is still essential, they stand of lesser priority – it being a property right. According to Joaquin G. Bernas, a framer of our 1987 Constitution – the hierarchy of rights places the right to property below that of life and liberty.

Being an employer, you are responsible for the welfare of your employee. The State protects the employees’ rights through the Labor Code. These include among others the right to work in a safe environment, the right to security, the right to association, the right to strike, etc. But overall, these rights are enshrined within our 1987 Constitution – Article XIII, Section 3 paragraph 1 states:

“The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and   promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.”

If you have an employer, check if he/she has violated any of your rights as a working man (or woman.) Also remember the right against involuntary servitude. Employers need to know and respect the rights of an employee (and vice-versa!) And that is why we have them included in this list.

#4 – LAW ENFORCEMENT

“Lawless are they that make their wills their law.” – William Shakespeare

One of the infamous professions in the Philippines, law enforcement has its share of followers and haters alike. Mostly being underappreciated for their efforts, plenty fail to see just how important law enforcement is in connection to Human Rights.

The most important of these are the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP.) But let us not forget to include other ranked security and executive officers also tasked with enforcing the law.

Article III of the 1987 Constitution, the Bill of Rights places at section 1 the summary – or pinnacle if you may call it- of Human Rights:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

Basically, just by being a Filipino, you give a certain part of your liberty by obeying the laws of the government, and in turn – the government will offer you its protection through the same laws you are set to obey.

The government then, through its law enforcers – upholds this security. The “arm of the law” in executing it duty, preserves Human Rights in the process. The Bill of Rights’ main purpose is to protect man from the government.

There is such a concept of inherent Human Rights. The Accused, have rights that exist and are enshrined in the Constitution. Including, among others the right to be informed of the charge against him, to have a fair trial, and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty (Section 14 Bill of Rights) the right against unreasonable searches and seizures/warrantless search and arrest (Section 2 Bill of Rights) and the right to not be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law (Section 14 Bill of Rights.)

These are just few of the Human Rights law enforcers are tasked to protect and respect every day of their chosen career.  Not only the ordinary citizen, but even accused, detainees and criminals have Human Rights. Please appreciate our law enforcers who stay true to their duty, because despite the prevalence of reports of Human Rights violations by police officers – there are still those who truly wear their uniform with pride as they perform their noble profession. That is why they are here on the list.

#3 – LEGAL PROFESSIONS

“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

You might be wondering why the legal profession is only ranked at #3 at this list. Don’t get the wrong idea; the legal profession covers almost all aspects of Human Rights. It is a law; therefore it is the Justice system that knows it best.

Judges, lawyers, and other members of the court all know Human Rights by heart. It is through their expertise that man can rest assured that when he comes to their aid, they know they came to the experts.

In application, lawyers protect the rights of their clients through procedure. Here’s the catch – most of the time, they can only come in once a right has been violated. A “cause of action” defined in Rule 2 of the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines state:

A cause of action is the act or omission by which a party violates a right of another.”

There are plenty of Human Rights accounted for after a violation – be it a civil, criminal, or administrative case – every client possesses Human Rights that lawyers are tasked to protect, enforce, and make known. Like the rights of an accused (Bill of rights) the rights of a labor worker (Labor Code) the rights of a person invoking self-defense (Revised Penal Code) the rights of a minor who committed a crime (RA 9344 Juvenile delinquents law) the rights of a victim of rape (RA 8353 Anti-Rape Law) the rights of a victim of fraud (BP 22 Bouncing checks law, Estafa under Revised Penal Code)

These are minute compared to the multiple laws involving Human Rights to which the legal profession is responsible to address. Lawyers act as advocates for Human Rights victims. And play such a major role in Human Rights. Because the Legal Profession is where one is able to maximize and master knowledge of Human Rights, it deserves its spot on this list.

#2 – MEDICAL PROFESSIONS

““Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” – Hippocrates

Ah yes! Now you get it. Basically, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives and all other health care professionals rank so high on this list for one good reason in Human Rights. “The right to life.”

Remember how I mention the hierarchy of rights before? Well, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, a framer of our 1987 Constitution, in his famous law book – the 1987 Constitution, a Commentary– stated that in the creation and framing of our Constitution, the framers put the right to life at the very top of the hierarchy for obvious reasons. This is where the Medical Profession takes its importance.

Take notice that majority of us, Humans, when we were born were first touched by the hands of a health care professional. And majority of us also are held by a health care professional in our deathbed. The noble profession that’s also underappreciated is that of a medical professional – who learns the ways and dedicates their life to save your Human Right to life.

Oh, and please do not forget how broad and controversial the right to life is. Let me enumerate some topics you might be familiar with: Euthanasia, Contraception, and Family Planning. What about free health care, Vaccinations, prenatal meds and laboratory check-ups? The right to refuse treatment, the right against being held for nonpayment. The right against restraints without consent.

The medical field is full of Human Rights applications mainly because it deals with the life of humans per se. Does it deserve to be #2? Absolutely.

#1 – TEACHING PROFESSIONS

“Teaching creates all other professions” –Anonymous

That quote above is the reason why I ranked this #1 on the list. Simply because teachers are what made professionals who they are, and this is why education is and should be the number one priority in the Philippines.

How can one learn Human Rights without teachers? Books maybe, but these books were written by authors who were also taught by these irreplaceable professionals in the teaching field.

The young are taught the basics from teachers. And here, in their most delicate and most formative years they are together with these professionals who we do not fully realize are teaching about Human Rights as early as kinder garden.

Do not be confused – you might believe Human Rights is too complex a topic for the young to comprehend? You fail to realize, that the most BASIC of Human Rights is taught at this very moment on a person’s life. What is it you ask?

The lesson of what is right and what is wrong.

About Robert Fellner

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