PATH

Peace Advocates For Truth, Healing & Justice

What is PATH?
Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing & Justice (PATH) was formally organized in 2002, pioneering in its focus on human rights violations by a non-state armed group. Composed of torture survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims missing or executed during the anti-infiltration campaigns within the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in the 1980s, PATH seeks truth and justice from the CPP-NPA and other Left blocs involved in the anti-infiltration campaigns. PATH believes that all non-state armed groups, including those not from the Left movement, should observe human rights in the conduct of their resistance against the State. Ultimately, PATH holds the State accountable as well for the purges, and for military atrocities during martial law and throughout successive administrations.
Goals & Objectives
PATH's goals and objectives are as follows:
  • 1. Complete the documents of the cases of all victims during the purges and all those involved.
  • 2. Organize a national community of human rights defenders and advocates composed of survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims during the purges.
  • 3. Facilitate the healing of survivors as well as the families, relatives and friends of purge victims.
  • 4. Conduct exhumations so that victims are given due respect and proper burial.
  • 5. Conduct a comprehensive advocacy work. Its main components will be public information and campaign, solidarity-building and lobbying at the local, national and international levels.
  • 6. Deepen and popularize the culture of human rights through artistic and popular education, productions and other cultural endeavors.
  • 7. Come up with case studies of country experiences on the setting up of Truth and Justice Commissions and strive for the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission in the country together with other human rights organizations and individual human rights advocates.
  • 7 Committees
  • Research & Documentation. Documents stories and produces a database of victims in aid of locating burial sites; conducts research to surface facts and circumstances of the purges; publishes materials as tools for justice campaigns; ensures confidentiality and security of records and files.
  • Recovery of Victims' Remains. In cooperation with the victims' kin, locates gravesites, retrieves the remains and arranges their proper burial; mobilizes the services of forensic experts and other professionals; initiates dialogues with the victims' families as well as with perpetrators.
  • Counseling & Therapy. Facilitates healing sessions that address the long-term trauma of surivivors and victims families; mobilizes professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; builds support groups for victims and their families towards eventual closure.
  • Communications & Popular Education. Develops education programs, including theoretical materials and tools for reflection, that revolve around human rights and respect for human dignity; holds commemoration activities and builds memorials for the victims; develops external communications through publications and mass media.
  • Legal & Security. Leads in the initiation and pursuance of legal actions for victims; assist in the handling and protection of material evidence in coordination with the RVR Committee; conducts research on the possibilities of a Truth Commission; studies the implications of PATH's work on the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP-NPA-NDF; and ensures lines with established institutions that will help strengthen PATH;
  • Arts & Culture. Produces musical compositions, literary works, plays, video documentaries, films, and other cultural works from the stories of survivors and victims.
  • Organizing & Advocacy. Reaches out to survivors and victims' families in different regions and encourages solidarity in their journey towards justice and healing.
  • Comments
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    Monday, August 27, 2007
    UN asked to recall its highest official in RP
    NGOs accuse exec of abuse, harassment

    By Veronica Uy
    INQUIRER.net
    Last updated 10:58am (Mla time) 08/27/2007

    MANILA, Philippines -- Former senator Wigberto Tañada and 48 other leaders of non-government organizations have asked the United Nations to recall its highest official in the Philippines for alleged arbitrariness, unilateralism, abuse, and harassment.

    In a petition, members of the civil society community said:
    “Arbitrariness. Unilateralism. Abuse. Harassment. These are words we do not normally attribute to the UN.”

    “Oftentimes we have seen the UN proactively responding to cases involving these. We are alarmed that now, a UN official is associated with the very things that are anathema to UN values,” they said of Nileema Noble, UN resident coordinator and UN development program representative in the Philippines.

    “We call upon the UN to deal decisively with the living paradox within its ranks as embodied by its highest official in the country, Ms. Nileema Noble. It is imperative that the UN correct this intolerable situation. We expect far higher standards of ethical conduct and professionalism from its representatives. Otherwise, they must go.”

    Noble, who has been at her post for more than a year, is being investigated by the UN for alleged abuse of authority over Filipino employees of the UN office here in Manila.

    At least 13 Filipino staffers of the United Nations office here, including two who have left the office, have sought the ouster of the UN-Manila chief for her “autocratic and oppressive behavior,” according to their letter to Kemal Dervis, administrator of the United Nations Development Program in New York, a copy of which was obtained by INQIUIRER.net.

    Mary Gemme Montebon, Jennifer Navarro, Amelia D. Supetran, Emmanuel E. Buendia, Morito G. Francisco, Imee F. Manal, Clarissa Arida, Roberto V. Carandang, Anna L. Senga, Frances M. Solinap (former UNDP staff), Francis Gertrud R. Mercado (former UNDP staff), Jay-Ann Arandia, and Elcid C. Pangilinan asked that Nileema be punished for “verbal and physical harassment,” “abuse of authority,” and “violation of the rights” of the staffers, particularly rights to effective remedy and due process.

    When asked for comment, Noble’s office said she has been instructed by the UNDP headquarters in New York to refrain from talking about the case.

    The petition was preceded by a short note saying: “We hope that you will agree that no international official, no matter if resource-bearing nor how well-intentioned and even progressive, has the right to treat Filipinos shabbily in their own country.”

    The petitioners noted that Noble’s behavior to UN staff has been known to them. “We are aware that numerous staff under her, whether temporary or fixed term, have complained and filed cases detailing verbal and physical abuse and arbitrary termination of employment contracts. We are appalled that numerous incidents involving Ms. Noble establish a pattern of systematic abuse of authority and downright harassment,” they said.

    The letter said Noble has also been arbitrary in her behavior of lack of consultation, mutual respect, and professionalism toward partner government and academic institutions by invalidating contracts.

    “The UN has set historic precedents in human rights observance over the past decades. Ironically now, the human rights and dignity of UN staff in the Philippines are being trampled. We cannot stand idly by,” it said.

    The other petitioners are Ana Maria “Princess” R. Nemenzo of the Freedom from Debt Coalition; Rosselynn “Jae” dela Cruz, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS); Luzviminda “Vim” Santos, People’s Global Exchange (PGX); Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD); Maria “Mars” Mendoza, Children's Initiatives for Learning and Development (CHILD) Inc.; Earl Parreno, Altertrade..."

    (Note: The list has been updated since. There are 112 names as of 6 September 2007. Please see separate posting below, A Call to Action," for the complete list).

    posted by PATH @ 8/27/2007 10:59:00 PM   13 comments
    Saturday, August 25, 2007
    A Call To Action
    Note: If you want to add your name to the petition, please email your name and particulars to jofti@yahoo.com with cc: http://us.f524.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=upoytao@yahoo.com and http://us.f524.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=erehes@yahoo.com ) to help us update the list.
    Thank you.

    ---------------------

    Dear friends in the Civil Society Community:
    We are sending you this petition and the attached documents (on the issue of Nileema Noble) for your consideration and support.

    After reading them, we hope that you will agree that no international official, no matter if resource-bearing nor how well-intentioned and even progressive, has the right to treat Filipinos shabbily in their own country. If you believe this, please affix your name to the petition and pass it on.

    On Human Rights and Democracy:
    May the UN Walk the Talk

    Arbitrariness. Unilateralism. Abuse. Harassment.

    These are words we do not normally attribute to the. Oftentimes we have seen the UN proactively responding to cases involving these. We are alarmed that now, a UN official is associated with the very things that are anathema to UN values.

    Ms. Nileema Noble has been the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines for more than a year. We are aware that numerous staff under her, whether temporary or fixed term, have complained and filed cases detailing verbal and physical abuse and arbitrary termination of employment contracts. We are appalled that numerous incidents involving Ms. Noble establish a pattern of systematic abuse of authority and downright harassment.

    The UN has set historic precedents in human rights observance over the past decades. Ironically now, the human rights and dignity of UN staff in the Philippines are being trampled. We cannot stand idly by.

    We are further alarmed that Ms. Noble’s arbitrariness extends to external partnerships. She unilaterally invalidates existing contractual arrangements between the UNDP and government/academic institutions. Many affected agencies, through sundry statements and letters, have expressed deep concern and disappointment over these actions, citing the lack of consultation, mutual respect and professionalism.

    All this, we have learned, is done in the name of "effecting change." Who does not want change? What we cannot be silent about, however, is the use of this supposed "change agenda" as a pretext and a license for excessive behavior with impunity. We are for change in favor of more democracy, more consultation, and more professionalism. We cannot support a change process towards unilateralism, tyranny, and utter disregard for basic rights.

    We, from the civil society community in the Philippines, have a stake on how the UN conducts its programmes and operations in the country. We are ready to support and cooperate with the UN, but we remind the UN to heed the words of Cardoso:

    “The world stands today at a very delicate juncture. The United Nations needs the support of civil society more than ever. But will not get that support unless it is seen as championing reforms in global governance that civil society is calling for...” (Fernando Cardoso, Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations. Transmittal letter to the Secretary General , 7 June 2004 .)

    It is in this spirit that we call upon the UN to deal decisively with the living paradox within its ranks as embodied by its highest official in the country, Ms. Nileema Noble. It is imperative that the UN correct this intolerable situation. We expect far higher standards of ethical conduct and professionalism from its representatives. Otherwise, they must go.

    Please add your name/organization (optional) to express your support for this cause.
    ****************************************

    Note: After affixing your name to the petition, please email it back to us (jofti@yahoo.com) to help us update the list.

    Thank you.


    **********************************************

    Dear friends in the Civil Society Community:

    We are sending you this petition and the attached documents (on the issue of Nileema Noble) for your consideration and support.

    After reading them, we hope that you will agree that no international official, no matter if resource-bearing nor how well-intentioned and even progressive, has the right to treat Filipinos shabbily in their own country. If you believe this, please affix your name to the petition and pass it on.


    On Human Rights and Democracy: May the UN Walk the Talk


    Arbitrariness. Unilateralism. Abuse. Harassment.

    These are words we do not normally attribute to the United Nations. Oftentimes we have seen the UN proactively responding to cases involving these. We are alarmed that now, a UN official is associated with the very things that are anathema to UN values.

    Ms. Nileema Noble has been the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines for more than a year. We are aware that numerous staff under her, whether temporary or fixed term, have complained and filed cases detailing verbal and physical abuse and arbitrary termination of employment contracts. We are appalled that numerous incidents involving Ms. Noble establish a pattern of systematic abuse of authority and downright harassment.

    The UN has set historic precedents in human rights observance over the past decades. Ironically now, the human rights and dignity of UN staff in the Philippines are being trampled. We cannot stand idly by.

    We are further alarmed that Ms. Noble’s arbitrariness extends to external partnerships. She unilaterally invalidates existing contractual arrangements between the UNDP and government/academic institutions. Many affected agencies, through sundry statements and letters, have expressed deep concern and disappointment over these actions, citing the lack of consultation, mutual respect and professionalism.

    All this, we have learned, is done in the name of "effecting change." Who does not want change? What we cannot be silent about, however, is the use of this supposed "change agenda" as a pretext and a license for excessive behavior with impunity. We are for change in favor of more democracy, more consultation, and more professionalism. We cannot support a change process towards unilateralism, tyranny, and utter disregard for basic rights.


    We, from the civil society community in the Philippines, have a stake on how the UN conducts its programmes and operations in the country. We are ready to support and cooperate with the UN, but we remind the UN to heed the words of Cardoso:

    “The world stands today at a very delicate juncture. The United Nations needs the support of civil society more than ever. But will not get that support unless it is seen as championing reforms in global governance that civil society is calling for...” (Fernando Cardoso, Chair of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations. Transmittal letter to the Secretary General , 7 June 2004 .)

    It is in this spirit that we call upon the UN to deal decisively with the living paradox within its ranks as embodied by its highest official in the country, Ms. Nileema Noble. It is imperative that the UN correct this intolerable situation. We expect far higher standards of ethical conduct and professionalism from its representatives. Otherwise, they must go.


    Please add your name/organization (optional) to express your support for this cause.


    Name and Organization

    1. Ana Maria "Princess" R. Nemenzo
    2. Rosselynn "Jae" dela Cruz, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through
    Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS)
    3. Luzviminda “Vim” Santos, People’s Global Exchange (PGX)
    4. Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Executive Director, Asian Federation Against Involuntary
    Disappearances (AFAD)
    5. Maria “Mars” Mendoza, Executive Director, Children's Initiatives for Learning and
    Development (CHILD) Inc.
    6. Antonio “Tony” Villasor
    7. Earl Parreno, Altertrade
    8. Ernesto M. Ordonez, Agriwatch
    9. Gil Navarro, Chair, Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing & Justice
    10. Niva Gonzales
    11. Arnold Tarrobago, Akbayan Citizens' Action Party
    12. Jean Enriquez, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women-Asia Pacific
    (CATW-AP)
    13. Cora Valdez Fabros
    14. Alice Raymundo
    15. Behn Cervantes
    16. Mercedes "Mercy" L. Fabros
    17. Claudette “Dette-Dette” Arboleda
    18. Soliman “Sol” Santos, South-SouthNetwork (SSN) and Philippine Campaign to Ban
    Landmines
    19. Edicio “Ed” dela Torre, Education for Life Foundation (ELF)
    20. Marianita “Girlie” Villariba, Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
    21. Ronald Llamas, President, Akbayan Citizens' Action Party
    22. Jude Esguerra
    23. Susan “Toots” Ople, Blas F. Ople Policy Center
    24. Cecilia “Thea” Soriano, Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net)
    25. Edwin Chavez, Center for People's Empowerment

    26. Josel Gonzales, Active Citizens Foundation
    27. David Andrade
    28. Danny Carranza, Peace Foundation
    29. Banjo Vina, Bisig
    30. Tomas Villarin, Executive Director, SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao-Convergence for Asset
    Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD)
    31. Rhodora A. Abano, Center for Migrant Advocacy
    32. Joe Valencia, KASAPI, Organization of Filipino Migrants in Greece
    33. Debbie Carlos Valencia, DIWATA Phil. Women's Network in Greece
    34. Francisco Cinco, Institute for Popular Democracy
    35. Peter Lavina, Councilor, Davao City
    36. Annelle P. Rivera-Beckstrom, Sociology Department, New School for Social Research,
    NY
    37. Roberto Nicolasora
    38. Arianne Reyes
    39. Etta Pargas-Rosales, Chair Emeritus, Akbayan & Co-Chair, Philippine Coalition for the
    International Criminal Court
    40. Wigberto "Bobby" Tanada
    41. Flor Caagusan
    42. Rodolfo Villanueva, Center for Participatory Governance
    43. Ronnie Tapnio
    44. Maria Luisa Jose-Tapnio
    45. Jeselle Papa
    46. Frances Therese C. Lo
    47. Jose Eliseo "Joel" Rocamora, IPD staff
    48. Ibarra "Barry" M. Gutierrez III
    49. Sister Arnold Maria Noel,SSpS
    50. Arnel Ramos, ODA Watch
    51. Dong Calmada, Peace Foundation, Inc.
    52. Byron D. Bocar, Akbayan! Citizens' Action Party
    53. Rosemary Cheung-Bocar
    54. Joel Saracho, Tbak Inc
    55. Floyd Buenavente, MBS TEK
    56. Aida Santos
    57. Reden B. Recio
    58. Nelson B. Sanchez
    59. Klaid Sabangan
    60. Rodel P. Abenoja Student Council Alliance of the Philippines Vice-Chairperson for Mindanao
    61. Daisy Valero, General Manager, Kalatas
    62. Jerome Bailen, forensic anthropologist
    63. Richard Taduran
    64. Delfin “Ted Borrero”
    65. Auxilium "Inday" Toling-Olayer, Human Rights Advocate, Board of Trustees of various HR organizations in the Philippines
    66. Cecilia Jimenez, Human Rights Lawyer. Geneva, Switzerland
    67. Joseph Francis
    68. Jose “Joey” Flora
    69. Amado "Bong" Mendoza, Jr., Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines
    70. Rebecca "Beckie" Malay
    71. Mylene Saluta, Panbansdang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
    72. Carlos Ocampo, Christian World Service, Sydney, Australia
    73. Christian “Bong” Ramilo, Australia
    74. Orlando “Dong” Tizon
    75. Jesse C. Agbulos
    76. Sylvia Estrada Claudio
    77. Ian Rivera Jr., Kalayaan
    78. Teresita M. Borgoños, Makalaya
    79. Rachel “Che” Aquino
    80. Genie Chavez, Philippine-Australia Partnership for Economic Governance Reforms
    81. Ellene A. Sana, Center for Migrant Advocacy
    82. Ronnie Abeto, Pusong Mamon Task Force / V-Team
    83. Arnold M. Tenerife, Filipinos for Better Philippines (FBP-KSA)
    84. Fr. Ben Moraleda, CSsR
    85. William C. Yerro, V-Team
    86. Ramon Mapa, People's Initiative for Learning and Community Development (PILCD) Baguio City
    87. Dorothy Grace Guerrero, Focus on the Global South, Thailand.
    88. Reynaldo S. Orbon, Member-V-Team, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    89. Wilson Requez, Regional Coordinator, Young Progressives Southeast Asia
    90. Victor S. Barrios, Chair, Global Filipinos Coalition Convenor/Moderator, Global Filipino Forum
    91. Ritchel Salve
    92. Terry Olayta – Canada
    93. Bobby Diciembre
    94. Noel C. Esquela, Center for Migrant Advocacy
    95. Renato Mabunga, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).
    96. Debbie Anne F. Soriano-Garcia
    97. Al Obre
    98. Melba de Guzman Marginson, Centre for Philippine Concerns Australia
    99. Aliza L. Belarmino
    100. Bonn Juego
    101. Rene R. Raya, Action for Economic Refors (AER) Baguio City
    102. Angging Aban
    103. Nethz M. Salvan, TAO-Pilipinas
    104. Ma. Fe Nicodemus, KAKAMMPI Chairperson
    105. Ka Domingo Legario, OFW, West Australia
    106. Patricio "Jojo" N. Abinales, Professor, Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.
    107. Reynaldo S. Orbon, Member-V-Team, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    108. Maria Cecilia Angeles-Cabrera
    109. Anna Navarro, Center for Migrant Advocacy
    110. Hazel Cotoner, Center for Migrant Advocacy
    111. May Cinco
    112. Himayat Rizvanqizi, Himayadar Humanitarian Progress Public Union
    113. Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, Philippines
    114. Risa Hontiveros, Representative, Akbayan Party List
    115. Milabel Cristobal Amar
    116. Dondon Parafina
    117. Yasser F. Sarona, Boy Scouts of the Philippines - National Capital Region
    posted by PATH @ 8/25/2007 09:50:00 AM   3 comments
    At UNDP, No Answer to Staff Complaints from Philippines, As Dervis Schmoozes Ban

    Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

    UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- It was 193 days ago that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a comprehensive audit of the North Korea operations of the UN Development Program and certain other UN agencies, to be completed in 90 days.

    It was 42 days ago that Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro wrote to the UN Board of Auditors, telling them that the Secretariat wants them to go to North Korea to actually audit UNDP's programs conducted there.

    On Monday, Ban Ki-moon met with Kemal Dervis, the Administrator of UNDP. Inner City Press asked for a read-out of the meeting, and on Tuesday one arrived from the Deputy Spokesperson:

    "the Secretary-General and UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis met to discuss issues of mutual concern, including the appointment of UN Resident Coordinators. On UNDP operations in the DPRK, they both agreed that additional measures should be taken in an accountable manner, in consultation with member states and the UNDP Executive Board, to look into new allegations regarding UNDP."

    Since it was already decided back in January that at least the UN Board of Auditors, if not outside party, would audit UNDP, and a second phase of the audit was already called for 42 days ago, the read-out appears to move backward. Tuesday Inner City Press sought clarification at the noon briefing:

    Inner City Press: yesterday the Secretary-General met with Kemal Dervis, of UNDP and you gave me this readout that says they agreed on additional measures for looking into DPRK that should be taken with Member States and executive boards. I couldn't tell from this, what is the status of this second phase of audit that Deputy Secretary-General Migiro wrote a letter about a month ago? What are the next steps on that or does this replace that?

    Deputy Spokesperson: This is the latest on this subject.

    Question: So has the second part been done or not been done?

    Deputy Spokesperson: This is the latest that we have based on the conversation the Secretary-General had with the UNDP Administrator, which, for the others in this room, did not focus just on UNDP and DPRK, but on a number of other issues of concern.

    Inner City Press: You also said they conferred on the appointment of resident coordinators. Who makes the decision choosing who will be the resident coordinator in a country? Is that only UNDP’s decision? Did he confer with the Secretary-General?

    Deputy Spokesperson: Yes, with the Secretary-General. That’s why they had the meeting together.

    Well, among the resident coordinators which Ban Ki-moon and Kemal Dervis should have discussed, or should still discuss and act on, is Nileema Noble, regarding whom 13 named Filipino staff complained to Dervis.

    Kemal Dervis talks global warming on July 31 (while UND Filipino staff burn)

    On Monday Inner City Press asked UNDP's spokesman to respond to the Nileema Noble issues, but his response last on Monday was "this is to acknowledge receipt of your questions. We will try to answer them as we are able." Despite Inner City Press having provided a detailed article about the complaints against Ms. Noble and a request for at least some comment, no comment or response was received on Tuesday.
    Manila-based Inquirer.net has reported:

    In a letter to Kemal Dervis, administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York, staffers Mary Gemme Montebon, Jennifer Navarro, Amelia D. Supetran, Emmanuel E. Buendia, Morito G. Francisco, Imee F. Manal, Clarissa Arida, Roberto V. Carandang, Anna L. Senga, Jay-Ann Arandia, and Elcid C. Pangilinan, and former staff workers Frances M. Solinap and Francis Gertrud R. Mercado, also asked that Nileema be punished for "verbal and physical harassment," "abuse of authority," and "violation of the rights" of the staffers, particularly to effective remedy and due process.

    Despite his agency's failure to answer on the complaint filed with him, Dervis could be seen Tuesday chairing a climate change meeting. (Click here for a related Inner City Press story.) Among the staff's complaints is retaliation and the fear of retaliation. On that, the UN's Ethics Office has still not ruled on a UNDP complainant's filing of June 5, despite the 45 day deadline having expired on July 20. The Ethics Office's Robert Benson extended his time to rule. On July 27, Inner City Press sent Mr. Benson an email asking, among other things, if he

    "could explain why the 45 day time period for ruling on the request for whistleblower protection filed with your Office on June 5 (or thereabouts -- the filer has give consent for you to speak) -- why was the time extended? And, separately, is OIOS' activity at UNDP related to seeing if the filer complied with the requirements of whistleblower status?"

    As of yet, there was been no answer at all. Nor to Inner City Press' questions to UNDP on Monday, nor (yet) to the follow-up to Tuesday's noon briefing:

    "question about the second phase of DPRK audit / Board of Auditors visit to DPRK (which were reportedly re-requested by DSG Migiro in a June 19 letter) -- the question is, since the Secretariat's request was made 42 days about, what's up? Will the Board of Auditors be visiting the DPRK? Have they made a request? And, what is up with the Ethics Office waiving the 45 day timeline in ruling on the whistleblower? These are Secretariat questions -- DSG's June 19 request, Secretariat's Ethics Office's 45 day deadline expired on July 20 -- time for an update?"

    If the recent past is any guide, these should be answered on Wednesday. Watch this space.

    posted by PATH @ 8/25/2007 09:48:00 AM   0 comments
    UNDP Staff Rises in Indignation

    Mr. Kemal Dervis

    Administrator

    United Nations Development Programme

    UN Plaza, New York

    cc: Mr. Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator

    Mr. Hafiz Pasha, UNDP RBAP Director

    Office of Human Resources

    Office of the Ombudsperson

    UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Staff Council

    23 July 2007

    Dear Mr. Dervis,

    Subject: Mrs. Nileema Noble

    It took this long for us to bring certain untenable things to your attention because we gave Mrs. Nileema Noble what she asked for a year ago when she assumed the post of the Resident Representative of UNDP: the benefit of the doubt. Although we already saw the forebodings of trouble, we shrugged off some of her troubling behaviour as mere eccentricities which we can live with and even overcome in time. But the longer we worked with her, the faster we came to the conclusion that her autocratic and oppressive behaviour will not change; that the longer she stays here, the faster the erosion of UNDP’s and even the UN’s credibility in the Philippines .

    Furthermore, many of us can no longer function optimally because of the almost daily harassment and abusive treatment we receive from her. Such abusive behavior, which has resulted to a hostile working environment and demoralization of staff, should not be tolerated in any form by the United Nations and United Nations Development Programme, as stated in the Charter of the United Nations, the Staff Rules and the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service. As you know, Staff Rule 101.2 (d) indicates that “any form of discrimination or harassment, as well as physical or verbal abuse at the workplace or in connection with work, is prohibited. Harassment in any shape or form is an affront to human dignity and international civil servants must avoid it. They should not engage in any form of harassment and must be above any suspicion of it. Further, Article 15 of Standards of Conduct

    for the International Civil Service states that, “Managers and supervisors are in positions of leadership and it is their responsibility to ensure a harmonious workplace based on mutual respect. They must act impartially, without intimidation and favouritism.”

    Mrs. Noble has been, and continue to be culpable of verbal and physical harassment and abuse of authority and has violated the rights of staff members, especially the right to effective remedy and due process. Specifically, she has exhibited improper and abusive behavior, unthinkable from a high-standing UN official, as manifested in the following incidents:

    Verbal and Physical Harassment. According to the UNDP Guidelines on Harassment and Abuse of Authority, harassment is understood to be any improper and unwelcome conduct that has or might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another. Harassment may be present in the form of words, gestures, or actions which tend to annoy, alarm, abuse, demean, intimidate, belittle, or cause personal humiliation or embarrassment to another or that causes an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Harassment normally implies a series of incidents.

    Ø Most recently, she insulted and embarrassed staff in front of high ranking government officials, publicly berating them with rude language for supposedly not undertaking a task which she committed to the government without even consulting and formally informing the staff concerned.

    Ø Poked a staff member’s chest and forcefully slapped another’s back to emphasize a point because she is angry or frustrated.

    Ø Rebuffed a staff who was so happy because Mrs. Noble already signed a contract (after several weeks of the document being with the latter). When the said staff slightly touched Mrs. Noble on the shoulder and quipped that it was finally over, Mrs. Noble physically shoved her hand away and responded in a loud voice, “What are you suggesting- that I’m pending documents in this office… “.

    Ø Meetings where she often raises her voice and nit-picks on managers and staff members, embarrassing and denigrating them unnecessarily. Several incidents of one-on-one meetings with staff where she raised her voice caused further intimidation and fear among them.

    Ø High-handed behavior with staff members, treating them with not a bit of respect. In one incident, a staff witnessed Mrs. Noble’s ordering another staff to fetch a pen under her table, which she can very well do on her own.

    Ø Several incidents with staff where she would nakedly point out their supposed rudeness in front of colleagues for not immediately greeting her good morning or good afternoon while she does not even observe it herself. In fact, she would rudely interrupt meetings of staff with the Deputy Resident Representative and not even apologize for the rude intrusion. There was one incident where she was not satisfied with the workshop flow and accused the UN staff in-charge of the activity of sabotaging the Office, in front of everyone.

    Ø Mrs. Noble questioned one staff for not immediately informing of her plans to go n a special leave without pay (SLWOP), and accused her of not being ransparent. When the staff attempted to explain that it was premature to advise he office of her plans at that time, she was told by Mrs. Noble that if this happened in another organization, she would have been kicked out immediately and would seriously damage her career. As a result of this incident with the staff, Mrs. Noble called her supervisor and berated her regarding the kind of relationship with her staff, saying that as the supervisor, she should know in advance all of their individual plans, including personal.

    Ø Several incidents where staff were too afraid to speak or question her decisions even if such will clearly compromise the organization for fear of retaliation. Whenever staff muster enough courage to speak their minds on certain issues which clearly contravene her own, she would intimidate these staff until they give up. By her actuations, Mrs.Noble always presumes herself to be correct and no one should, therefore, question her actions. In one of the staff meeting, Mrs. Noble announced staff movements and claimed that she has informed the particular staff of his re-assignment to another unit, where he allegedly agreed on. The concerned staff responded that it was the first time that he has heard of the re-assignment.

    Ø Often exhibiting unnecessary frustration, rage and intimidation if an outcome is not to her liking, accusing staff of perceived hidden motivation, imaginary errors and incomplete staff work. She often accuses staff of hiding things from her and not providing her enough information, no matter how many briefings, briefing papers and other information materials are provided her. She does not listen to staff explanation and makes oft-repeated accusations which are baseless and untrue.

    Ø One incident where she almost tore a letter apart when she erased her signature in front of a staff, implying that the staff was trying to trick her into signing that document.

    Ø She also has the habit of throwing papers back to the persons submitting them, if she is not satisfied with such papers.

    Abuse of Authority. According to the UNDP Guidelines on Harassment and Abuse of Authority, abuse of authority implies the improper use of a position of influence, power, or authority by a staff member or non-staff personnel against another staff member or non-staff personnel or a group thereof. This is particularly serious when a staff member or non-staff personnel uses his or her influence, power or authority to negatively influence the career or employment conditions (including, but not limited to, appointment, assignment, contract renewal, performance evaluation or promotion) of another staff member or non-staff personnel. It can include a one-time incident or a series of incidents. Abuse of authority may also consist of conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment, which includes, but is limited to, the use of intimidation,

    threats, blackmails or coercion.

    Ø Recent arbitrary (and forcible) termination of two staff without due process. Further, the manner in which she handed out the decision and her ensuing instructions for its implementation, such as the terminated staff’s leaving the UN premises immediately, packing their belongings and turn-over of keys and IDs within the hour) showed how little her respect is for common decency and dignity of a human person, treating them like common criminals. Staff members who witnessed these incidents were left in shock and fear. If these could happen to high-ranking national staff in the UNDP/UN, then it can very well happen to them, or even much worse. These incidents of arbitrary termination happened in a span of only two weeks.

    Ø Adding insult to injury, one of them was told not to contest the decision of his termination. If he did, then Mrs. Noble said that she will have to state a reason for the termination that will tarnish his record which, in effect, would deprive him of possible UN employment opportunities in the future..

    Ø Several verbal threats to staff that their contracts will not be renewed if targets are not achieved or performance is not acceptable to her. She even made a threat to withhold a staff member’s salary if performance is not up to her standards.

    Ø In staff meetings, she often emphasized and justified her micro-management approach to her lack of trust in the unit mangers’ capacity and ability to perform their assigned tasks. This led to several incidents where she arbitrarily decided on operational and programmatic issues, disregarding programme recommendations such as: which consultant contract gets signed, who gets to go on leave, etc.

    Ø Her arbitrary decisions on programme management modalities and strategies led to delay in the implementation of projects, delivery of resources and much confusion on how programmes are to be managed and implemented by partners. One classic example is her arbitrary removal of Project Management Offices and the change of an Implementing Partner, without due process, rational basis and against the objections of her managers and staff.

    Ø Numerous delayed appointments, abrupt termination of contracts and refusal to sign contracts and documents, which affected much of the staff’s workload (which are already burdensome) and performance and delivery of programs and projects. At present, the RCA process (personnel evaluation) of some staff are being delayed for months when contract expiration is fast approaching. In a previous instance, this resulted in arbitrary termination of staff while his RCA rebuttal process was still in progress.

    Ø Unreasonable delay or non-approval of official travel and staff leaves (well within the delegated authority of managers) which caused non-participation in important meetings and conferences locally/abroad, loss of opportunities for learning and staff development, and unfulfilled monitoring obligations of UNDP to its donors. There was an incident where one staff resigned due to the delayed approval of her one-month leave, which she filed two months earlier. She has worked for UNDP for eight years and never took any long-term leave except for that one instance and was let go just like that.

    Ø Mrs. Noble’s impossible, whimsical requests and demands to be included in certain high-level meetings and conferences have led to incidents where staff had to push themselves to the limit to satisfy her. There was an incident where a staff had to stay late at night for two days just to enable her to get into an event she, for some reason, craved to be in. When everything has been arranged, she decided last minute not to go anymore, without any explanation or apologies.

    Ø Abolition of a very important Unit: the Programme Monitoring Unit and its staff (whom she unreasonably judged to be incompetent and ineffective) which led to the distribution of that Unit’s workload to already overloaded staff in the office. More than 17 staff left during her term due to non-renewal of contracts, forced resignation and staff demoralization. Only a handful of staff are left and continue to leave due to the hostile working environment. Increased incidence of stress-related illnesses is prevalent among staff nowadays.

    Ø Former staff and SSAs who left or resigned have been banned from visiting the CO or being hired again. In one incident, under instructions from Mrs. Noble, DRR Naka informed the former supervisor of one staff that resigned not to visit or show herself in the CO since this would upset Mrs. Noble. Further, one SSA’s contract has been terminated within 10 days without reason or explanation.

    Ø A very grave infraction committed by Mrs. Noble was her incursion into staff privacy in communications. She had one of the staff member’s office cellphone seized, its contents downloaded, on mere unfounded accusation of a PMO staff that the staff member was spreading malicious messages about her. Mrs. Noble made no amends nor even offered an apology even when the exercise did not yield information incriminating the staff whose cellphone was seized.

    We are also aware of Mrs. Noble’s retort that these allegations are mere complaints from “incompetent and non-performing staff”, as she would call those who would go against her whims and caprices. This is totally untrue as shown in our previous performance appraisals for the last 5 years. Most of us have worked here for several years and this is the only time that we experienced such oppressiveness, callousness and total disregard of our rights and dignity especially coming from a high-ranking UN official.

    These are but some of the incidents, showing without a doubt, the abusive character of Mrs. Noble. We have been forced to seek your help because, unfortunately, we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel and are afraid that this oppressive situation will continue.

    In order to prevent further verbal and physical harassment and abuse of authority, resulting in violations of UN rules and our rights as international civil servants, and in order to prevent further prejudice to the work of UNDP and the UN in relation to its partners, we ask that Mrs. Nileema Noble be immediately relieved as Resident Representative of UNDP and UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines . We also ask that disciplinary action be immediately commenced against Mrs. Noble for violation of UN regulations and our human rights as UN staff.

    We would like to serve notice that we reserve our right to seek recourse through other avenues for legitimate grievances.

    We hope that this plea will not be in vain.

    Sincerely,

    Concerned UNDP Staff and other UN Staff

    Mary Gemme Montebon

    Jennifer Navarro

    Amelia D. Supetran

    Emmanuel E. Buendia

    Francisco G. Morito

    Imee F. Manal

    Clarissa Arida

    Roberto V. Carandang

    Anna L. Senga

    Frances M. Solinap (former UNDP Staff)

    Francis Gertrud R. Mercado (former UNDP Staff)

    Jay-Ann Arandia

    Elcid C. Pangilinan

    posted by PATH @ 8/25/2007 09:48:00 AM   0 comments

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