THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) recently launched a project that hopes to make the Philippines one of the first countries and the first in Asia whose national development plan is primarily anchored on human rights.

The project aims to train Neda technical staff nationwide to adopt the human rights-based approach (HRBA) in crafting development plans, including the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) of the next administration.

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“With this project, which by the way is the first of its kind in Asia, Neda has set a new standard in development planning,” Acting Director-General Augusto B. Santos said during its launch on Feb. 10, 2010.

The HRBA is a mainstreaming process that links human rights principles and standards to development. It recognizes the importance of people empowerment as a key in fighting poverty.

It also brings in legal tools and institutions as a means to secure freedoms and stimulate human development.

Training

An orientation session on HRBA Applied Learning Workshops was recently held at Astoria Plaza, Pasig City. A series of workshops for Neda central and regional technical staff will be conducted from Feb. 24 to April 23, also this year.

The two-month project already produced a HRBA toolkit and workbook for planning.

It will also integrate HRBA instruments into development plans, programs and activities of the national government.

“We now envision the full integration of the human rights-based approach in the formulation of all development policies, plans and programs of the country. And we now expect that more vulnerable sectors of our society will be given equal opportunities for growth and development,” Santos said.

Wholistic view

Neda hired Maria Socorro Diokno, an international expert on human rights, to help implement the project. Diokno presented an overview of the HRBA in development planning during the kick-off activity. She also introduced and outlined the series of HRBA workshops during the orientation session.

“For this project and in compliance with our mandate, we have brought inter-staff participation. I consider it very important since it is through your devoted and active participation that Neda shall ensure that human rights principles, norms and standards shall be integrated, reflected nd defined in the formulation of the country’s development policies, plans and programs,” Santos said.

In 2008, Administrative Order 249 mandated Neda to ensure that the principles of the rights-based approach are integrated in the country’s development policies, plans and programs.

The International Bill of Human Rights commits governments to grant individuals health, decent labor, quality education and an adequate standard of living. (PR)