[Statement] On House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ pronouncements against the Commission on Human Rights -AFAD

Statement on House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ pronouncements against the Commission on Human Rights

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) is deeply concerned with the recent pronouncements made by Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez regarding the deprivation of budget, and subsequent abolition of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR is a body which is constitutionally mandated to ensure the protection of the human rights of every Filipino as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and to handle the investigation of abuses and violations perpetrated by agents of the State. The attempt to cut down CHR’s budget, more so to propose its abolition would entail grave consequences to the longstanding battle towards achieving truth, justice, redress and reparation for the victims and their families.

In relation to Speaker Alvarez’ claim that the CHR remains mum on incidences of innocent civilians being victimized by criminals, it is important to note the distinction between human rights violations and criminal acts. Human rights violations are committed by agents of the State; otherwise, these would be classified as criminal acts which are penalized under domestic laws, and are under the jurisdiction of the police. The CHR’s responsibility is to ensure that there will be no abuse or negligence on the part of the government in protecting and upholding the rights of all the citizens, especially among the marginalized, oppressed and powerless.

AFAD strongly opposes these pronouncements, and we call on the Philippine Congress to reevaluate the budget allocation of the CHR next year, in accordance to the spiteful situation that the country is currently embedded into. The attempt to decrease the budget would exploit the absence of CHR’s fiscal autonomy, and would significantly affect this institution’s undertakings towards ending impunity.

Likewise, AFAD also opposes the current administration’s stale support in the upholding and protection of the human rights of every Filipino, and obvious effort to silence critique and dissent. Respect for human life and dignity are the core values of humanity, and the foundations on which the Philippines is built upon, and the current administration’s apathy is an attack to the very ideals that this nation holds dear.

Lastly, AFAD calls on the Filipino people to remain vigilant to abuses and incidents committed by the agents of the State; and to seek accountability from the government for all unaddressed cases of human rights violations. It is only through combined efforts and unified statements among the Filipino people and the international community where justice, respect for the law and accountability can be fully demanded from the government.


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