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Published on 28 September 2005
Reflections on the Charter of Human Responsibilities
Organization for Training, Research and Development (OTRADEV) Foundation
3 September 2005
The Charter of Human Responsibilities was first presented to the members of OTRADEV  in April 2004 at the University of the Philippines lagoon grounds. In that gathering, the members gave their consent to get involved in the promotion of the Charters principles through a video-documentation project focusing on how the Iraya-Mangyan practiced human responsibility. The video-documentation was completed in October 2004 and the final version was shown during the OTRADEV meeting in December 2004 at the house of Pinky C. Cupino.
As a follow-up, Ruben Martinez proposed that the Charter be discussed among teachers of Northern Mindoro, who are the key actors in the Charter dissemination and video dissemination for the public school children in Mindoro, where the Mangyans live. The public school children are mostly non-Mangyans and a certain percentage are Mangyans. Then another discussion shall be among social development advocates in Manila.
The social development advocates held a meeting September 3, 2005 at the UNIFEM office in the PSSC, University of the Philippines, hosted by OTRADEV member Luz Lopez-Rodriguez. The discussion among the Northern Mindoro teachers was held in October of this year.
Aleli Bawagan, community development and education anthropology
1. Superman says, with great power comes great responsibility.
2. The Charter of Human Responsibilities has parallelisms in the social contract theory, the moral recovery movement, citizenship education, ”you are part of the problem, therefore, you are also part of the solution”, and Kennedy’s ”Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country.”
3. The Charter of Human Responsibilities complements the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although this Declaration and its sectoral counterparts define entitlements, it also implicitly demands responsibilities from individuals, groups, governments, institutions. It was recognized by the group, though, that the articulation of responsibilities is important, particularly for sectors in society that tend to disregard or do not have a sense of responsibilities.
4. People are not only recipients of entitlements but are also duty-bearers, duty-holders.
5. We should reference and locate the Charter in human rights discourse as well as in sectoral human rights discourses, like the International Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
6. The Charter of Human Responsibilities should also complement the Earth Charter. Considering that the Earth Charter is not human-centered, not anthropocentric, then one perspective is that the Earth Charter can be seen as having the broader framework. On the other hand, the Human Responsibilities Charter includes responsibilities toward the environment, as well as other social and economic responsibilities.
7. The question on environmental responsibility and going beyond anthropocentrism reminded the participants about eco-feminism, which says that the world is much bigger than humanity, recognizes that women are closely attuned to nature, and that is not male ego-centered. It also reminded some about eco-spirituality, which believes that all living things, and not only humans are creations of God.
8. As the participants are all social development workers who worked among the Mangyans of Mindoro and fisherfolks in Laguna and Southern Leyte, the Charter affirms its organizing experience. When social development workers ask people to organize and act to change their socio-economic-political conditions, they are in effect telling people to be responsible for their own life, and for the community and society as a whole.
9. Although the ideas presented in the Charter are not entirely new to development workers, the Charter very importantly articulates the concept of and the importance of the exercise of responsibilities in an integrated and comprehensive manner, and this is what makes this initiative novel. The Charter becomes a resource ”which proposes priorities and prompts choices”.
10. When we speak of human rights, we do not merely see it as an idea, a good idea. The idea of human rights should ensure that these rights are enjoyed. As with human rights, human responsibilities should be practiced. It should be monitored to ensure implementation. It should be result-oriented; mechanisms should be implemented to obtain the intended results. It should be open to audit. Likewise, best practices should be documented and disseminated.
11. The group subscribes to the principle that those who have more access to information and knowledge have more responsibility. That is why education, conscientization, organizing are very important.
12. The Charter principle, which states that ”the exercise of power can only be legitimate if it serves the common good, and if it is monitored by those over whom it is exercised” reminds the body of the ongoing social struggle in the Philippines today that questions the moral legitimacy of the present government due to allegations of corruption and cheating during the elections.
13. The Charter challenges anthropocentrism, ethnocentrism, patriarchy. It challenges us to go beyond the stereotype, beyond our limited imagination, use the untapped potential of our brain, to expand human relationships, and go for responsible behavior.
14. As an organization, OTRADEV can identify with the Charter, finding convergence with our vision and mission.
15. OTRADEV undertook community development work among the Mangyans of Mindoro for 17 years. Since eight years ago, it has pulled out, consistent with its belief that organizers should work towards making themselves unnecessary, as the community becomes organized and empowered, and responsible for themselves, their community, their people.
16. A small contribution of OTRADEV in awareness raising among the Mangyans is manifested in that their concerns have gone beyond the family level through community organizing with its capacity building and education components. They now recognize that they are not just responsible for their family’s well-being but for their own community’s development as well. As their knowledge expand, their responsibilities increased, too. Through the intra-tribal and inter-tribal sharing, they came to learn of the common problems that affect /affected them and the other indigenous peoples groups such that they are now collectively fighting not just individual rights but the rights of all indigenous people’s to ancestral land, etc. It was a long, painstaking process but the intended results (including the unintended) are now manifested in how they handle their current affairs.
17. Last year, OTRADEV produced a video-documentary on how the Iraya Mangyans of the island of Mindoro exercise responsibilities toward their environment, their culture and their community. It was seen from the documentary that the Mangyans’ belief system and world view goes beyond the human world to a spirit world, which produces processes that impacts on the life of the Mangyans. It is also this belief system that makes these people respect the environment, because the environment – the forest, trees, the plants house spirits that should be respected and should not be violated.
18. The video tried to capture the Mangyan’s worldview. But the full potential of this knowledge and know-how is realized only through sharing them, and through using them in the service of solidarity and peace.
19. This year, OTRADEV is going to conduct discussions on the Charter among the teachers of Northern Mindoro. The discussion shall be concretized through the ways in which Mangyans exercise responsibilities. Guide questions should be prepared to identify rights and responsibilities in the presentation. The presentation itself identifies issues on land ownership, environmental degradation, family, culture, justice system, and livelihood of the Mangyans. At the same time, it posed challenges and elicited community response in the form of education, organizing work, advocacy and calls for governmental responsibility on the plight of Mangyan peoples. It is important to review the public school curriculum and identify in what areas and in what way, particularly in Social Studies, can the Charter and the Mangyan life be brought up. It is important to reach out to the teachers, who are in the middle of the pecking order of society – both victims and perpetuators of dominant culture.
20. What else we can do? Disseminate the Charter through our video documentary not only to public schools but also to the church sector, private schools, government. We could take the opportunity of the celebration of the Indigenous People’s Week towards this end. As many of OTRADEV members are in the academe or the education sector, this sector may be actively tapped to promote the Charter.
21. As advocates of human responsibilities, we should model and make our lifestyle consistent with responsible behavior.
 an organization of social development workers founded in 1980