Civil society groups nominate staunch human rights advocates for CHR posts
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Civil society groups led by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) yesterday submitted to Malacanang a list of nominees for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) posts. The nominations were given to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his consideration without in anyway derogating from his privilege of appointment as Chief Executive.
“May this participative action be taken as civil society’s high regard and serious concern for the institution, born out of the struggles for justice and human dignity during martial law years, ” according to Mr. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA.
“As well as for the persons, who would compose and witness to the historical legacy of the Aquino administration,” de Mesa said.
The shortlist of nominees was an outcome of a broad and inclusive consultation which human rights defenders (HRDs) from civil society hope to help the President choose the most qualified for job.
CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales is scheduled to leave office in May 2015 together with the three Commissioners who have served a seven-year full term at the CHR. Chair Etta is just completing the unexpired term of Leila de Lima, who had been appointed Justice Secretary by President Aquino. While one Commissioner was already removed from her post by the Office of the Ombudsman over a graft case filed by her former subordinates, a case was filed against another Commissioner also with the Ombudsman.
In the letter submitted to President Aquino dated March 5, 2015, the civil society groups nominated former Quezon Province Representative Atty. Lorenzo Tanada III, former Regional Human Rights Commission of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Chairperson Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia, CHR GovLink Director Karen Dumpit, human rights and public interest lawyer, Atty. Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Groups, and International human rights lawyer, Atty. Cecil Jimenez.
“The shortlist of names of men and women we submitted to Malacanang is what we believe to be those personalities who exceptionally fit the criteria of independence, competence and integrity, the qualities that all CHR commissioners should possess,” de Mesa added.
It is the first time that civil society has systematically engaged in the nomination process for the CHR posts as it is viewed as highly a politicized process considering that the President, after all, ultimately makes the appointments.
But due to what they considered under-performance of the CHR and the alarming allegations of abuse of authority, graft practices and human rights abuses involving CHR officials, the HRDs were pushed to take active part in the selection process.
They see the search for the next CHR officials as a great opportunity for human rights to be put in the top of the list of the government agenda.
“The bleak performance of the Commission on Human Rights as a human rights watchdog in addressing different human rights issues in the country necessitates the need to have people in the Commission who have a genuine passion for human rights, and with the energy and the courage to ensure that human rights can be a reality for all.” de Mesa continued.
The nomination was backed by 28 human rights organizations and five private individuals who signed the endorsement letter.
They are also urging President Aquino to make human rights one of its lasting legacies by making CHR as an example of a prime human rights institution in the country, the ASEAN and the international community.
Secretary General- PAHRA
Mobile No. 0906-553-1792
Email add. firstname.lastname@example.org
March 5 2015
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