Tag Archives: CHR

[Statement] CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on recent remarks to implement Martial law-style enforcement of quarantine rules

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on recent remarks to implement Martial law-style enforcement of quarantine rules

Containing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been the paramount objective in the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine. Our current COVID-19 figures show that we are still at the peaking stage of the pandemic, the threat to public health is still growing, and the challenge to our public health system remains daunting. As we have posited from the start, restrictive measures—the enhanced community quarantine and other stringent social distancing policies—are justified given that the primordial right to health and life is at stake.

Recently, the Chief Executive warned of Martial law-style enforcement if compliance does not improve. The Chief of the Philippine National Police, as well as some local officials, also made similar remarks. The Office of the President clarified that this was a verbal warning and not a formal declaration.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) recognizes that such remark intends to direct strict enforcement to law enforcers while deterring non-compliance and ensuring cooperation from the public. We have equally urged for cooperation and solidarity from the very start for these are crucial in preventing transmission and to gradually flatten the curve.

Proper enforcement and public cooperation are indeed expedient. The best way to achieve these is through a humanitarian approach that ensures peace while protecting public health. For a thorough implementation, we reiterate the need for clear-cut guidelines for law enforcers on the ground that will provide scenarios, do’s and don’ts, and commensurate penalties. This will also serve as a safeguard against abuse of authority, guarantee respect for rights, and prevent undue panic.

We note that the quarantine guidelines underscore the need to respect human rights in the implementation. We recognize the intention to ensure balance in protecting public health while respecting human rights. As we have pointed out in our earlier advisories and releases, measures for protecting the general populace that necessitates limiting rights and freedom must be proportionate to the attainment of clear objectives, lawful, and respectful of human dignity among others.

As a public health measure, the quarantine rules are still bound by legal standards. Any warrantless arrest should be within legal ambit, which strictly provides specific circumstances when it is merited. Further, the measures must be strictly motivated by public health reasons and must not be used to target any group nor to repress dissent or critics. Needless to say, fundamental rights remain even as some necessary measures need to be taken.

In a state of public emergency, it might be convenient to resort to sweeping measures that provide shortcuts. However, protecting public health entails due diligence and nuancing such that all factors are considered and no human dignity is trampled upon. Our right to health can only be fully protected through the continuing exercise of the wide array of other rights, such as the right to information, food, free speech, and economic security. Hence, we continue to call for a holistic approach that will ensure public health while upholding human rights and dignity.

As we endeavor to heal as one, we must continue to foster rule of law and human rights to facilitate the emergence of a healthier and more humane society after this crisis.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-on-recent-remarks-to-implement-martial-law-style-e/2758557130927481/

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[Statement] CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the arrest of Cebu film writer Maria Victoria Beltran

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the arrest of Cebu film writer Maria Victoria Beltran

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses concern over the arrest of Maria Victoria ‘Bambi’ Beltran early Sunday, 19 April 2020, in Cebu City.

Reports say that the warrantless arrest was made due to an alleged violation of the Cybercrime Law after Beltran posted on Facebook what she claims as a satirical response to the rising number of positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz.

Beltran was also said to have taken down the post after Cebu Mayor Edgar Labella threatened her with an arrest.

A fully functional democratic society should be able to allow the reasonable exercise of free speech and expression as a means to participate in matters concerning public life. Arrests should never be made as a default response to dissent. Governments, especially in localities, should be able to engage in a healthy dialogue to enlighten its citizens instead of triggering fear.

In this regard, we hope that we can channel our collective energies and efforts to curbing the transmission of COVID-19 and addressing the socio-economic needs on the ground brought about by the loss of livelihood due to enhanced quarantine, which is equally pressing human rights concerns.

We stress that human rights cannot be suspended even during public emergencies. Restrictions to freedoms are also bound by the parameters set by human rights law and should never lead to their abrogation. In this regard, CHR Region VII is already investigating this case in the interest of knowing the truth and in defense of freedoms and human dignity.

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[Statement] of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the violent dispersal of indigenous peoples’ barricade in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya

(06 April 2020,) the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) received a report that more than a hundred police officers escorted three diesel tankers of OceanaGold Philippines Inc (OGPI) and forcibly entered the premises of Brgy. Didipio in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya. The incident led to a violent police dispersal of the people’s barricade, injuring several indigenous peoples who were mostly women.

The CHR is alarmed by this transgression and calls for immediate investigation of the Philippine National Police on the encounter. It is deplorable that such operations were carried out while there is an ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is being implemented.

While people are trying to flatten the curve by complying with the enhanced community quarantine, such action by OGPI and the police increases the danger of losing the lives of the involved communities. Furthermore, the intensified presence of the military and the police nationwide heightens the fear of crackdown and attacks against indigenous peoples’ rights defenders given the restrictions of movement.

We strongly remind the government that in pursuit of national development, it should never resort to oppressive policies that jeopardise the human rights of the marginalised, vulnerable, and disadvantaged sectors such as our indigenous peoples. Similarly, we underscore and reiterate that in this time of health crisis, the government must address the basic and medical needs of these communities—not persecute nor attack them.

The whole nation is already suffering from various losses due to the disease. Let us not waste more lives as we succumb to the greedy corporate interest of the few.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-on-the-violent-dispersal-of-indigenous-peoples-bar/2723758617740666/

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[Statement] of CHR Spokesperson on the alleged ‘forced’ public apology order on University of the East’s campus paper chief

06 April 2020

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) denounces the alleged repressive actions against Joshua B. Molo, Editor-in-Chief of The Dawn, the official campus paper of the University of the East.

On his personal social media account, the student journalist expressed his criticisms on how the government is handling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 crisis), but these remarks did not sit well with the opinions of his former teachers. One of them reported Molo to authorities and allegedly threatened to file a cyber libel case against him if he does not do a public apology. He was summoned to the Barangay Hall of San Fernando Sur in Nueva Ecija.

The CHR condemns this blatant disregard for Molo’s dignity and fundamental human rights. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is the lifeblood of a democratic society.

Efforts by government and non-government entities to suppress nonviolent expression could lead to far more dangerous and compromising outcomes, as free speech is a necessary precondition to the enjoyment of other rights such as freedom of assembly and association, press freedom, and right to vote among others. Laws are meant to protect rights, not curtail them.

We reiterate that dissent and expression of grievance against government actions and views are not crimes—but are constitutionally recognized rights. Instead of going after individuals and organizations who articulate their dissatisfaction to the government response to the current crisis, addressing the main issues, such as hunger, unemployment, and other pressing concerns must be prioritized. Dissenting voices are necessary and should be given space in order to allow better leadership.

How our society tolerates and entertains the most minority and disfavoured views reflect how it values and recognizes the worth of our fundamental freedoms. We call on every Filipino to remain vigilant in defending our freedom of expression while holding the real perpetrators of anti-people policies, not the innocents, to account. Instead of shrinking democratic spaces, our collective goal should always improve the way each and everyone’s rights are upheld, guided by the laws that protect them.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-on-the-alleged-forced-public-apology-order-on-univ/2721811077935420/?hc_location=ufi

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[Statement] of CHR spokesperson on the recent attack against Indigenous Community in Davao Del Norte

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is alarmed by the recent attack against an indigenous community in Kapalong, Davao Del Norte by alleged members of the New People’s Army. The said assault occurred early Tuesday morning, 24 March 2020, in the remote village of Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan of the said town.

The Commission denounces this act of deliberate violence by the armed group.

Protection of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (IPs) in times of armed conflict and prohibition against attacks on non-combatants and civilians are protected rights under Republic Act No. 8371 (or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) and Republic Act No. 9851 (or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity).

CHR recognises previous efforts by Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to look into the needs of Sitio Tapayanon, such as civil registration, malnutrition, basic education, health concerns of the elderly and children, registration of IPs political structure, inclusion of ancestral domain, and hygiene and sanitation.

As such, we condemn the violence given that, considering the present coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, atrocities further push indigenous people into vulnerability.

To this end, we call on both parties—government and the New People’s Army—to effect a genuine ceasefire in these communities and work towards a more durable and permanent solution to armed conflict on the ground.

26 March 2020

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[From the web] CHR denounces attacks on human rights advocates -Manila Bulletin

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is alarmed over the series of attacks against human rights defenders in the country in the past two months, and has denounced what it called the “patterns of harassment” directed towards individuals who are only working with peoples organizations.

The CHR reported that on January 19, peasant organizers Emerito Pinza and Romy Candor went missing in Brgy. San Antonio, Kalayaan, Laguna. It has been suspected that elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Mobile Force Battalion 4A were involved in their disappearance.

On February 3, the CHR said that indigenous people leader and organizer, Jay-ar Mercado of Oriental Mindoro, was killed by alleged members of the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. His remains were found buried in Bulalacao without the consent and knowledge of his family.

Two days later, Engr. Jennifer Agohob, a resident of Oroquieta City and member of the Union of People’s Lawyer in Mindanao (UPLM) and Karapatan, was illegally arrested. The arrest was based on the warrant of arrest for murder issued on July 26, 2019 by Judge Victoriano Lacaya, Jr. of Regional Trial Court Branch in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte. According to the CHR, Agohob was not even made aware of any of these complaints.

Click the link below to read more:

https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/02/10/chr-denounces-attacks-on-human-rights-advocates/?fbclid=IwAR28uyDF3Hz4coePex-_K-CyjRvfaqA2vq8ff4t1L9g3Y-V5aQXlhjCmggk

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[Statement] of the Commission on Human Rights on the celebration of International Human Rights Day

[Today], the Commission on Human Rights joins nations and communities everywhere in commemorating International Human Rights Day and the 71st Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Over seven decades ago, world leaders convened to adopt the UDHR, a declaration that would form the foundations of core human rights treaties and establish core principles of human rights such as universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination. Just as human rights entail rights to individuals, states in ratifying the Declaration have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of individuals and groups against abuse.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Youth Standing Up for Human Rights,” which aims to celebrate the potential of youths everywhere as agents of change. Under the Commission’s continuing call for the promotion and respect for human rights and its primacy, we endeavour to show our support and encouragement to the Filipino youth — as an increasing number of them continue to stand up for their rights against violence, injustice and repressive state policies. As a nation, we need to harness the passion and commitment of our next generation of human rights defenders and create a safe and enabling environment for them to continue the fight.

We must remember that human rights should not only be celebrated every 10th of December. We need to defend and celebrate human rights every single day as they are the products of people’s lives and continuing struggles.

As we come to another year of this global observance, the Commission strongly calls for greater state accountability for all human rights violations in the Philippines and to end impunity that further aggravates the suffering of our people. Extrajudicial killings remain to be the biggest attack to human rights in the country as death toll continues to rise with the government’s anti-people policies. Killing of journalists, activists, farmers and other human rights defenders, has become more rampant as the existing political environment is hostile to any form of dissent. The poor peasants, workers, indigenous and Moro people, women, and the youth remain to be the majority of the victims of oppression and violence. But despite the setbacks, we have to celebrate our gains and build on the small and big wins of people’s movement to honour those individuals who sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Youth participation in nation-building, therefore, is essential to ensure a vibrant and healthy democracy. Empowering the youth to better know their rights while teaching them the lessons of the past will lead to a better tomorrow where everyone’s rights are respected.

Now, more than ever, we must come together as a nation and build the broadest coalition of human rights defenders for freedom and dignity of all, and continue to push back as we reaffirm our commitment to fight for people’s rights and against all forms of attacks against the Filipino people.

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[From the web] CHR stands in solidarity with human rights defenders, calls out attacks against them

Quezon City—On 09 December 2019, a day before the celebration of the International Human Rights Day, the Commission on Human Rights hosted a solidarity event convening human rights defenders, activists, and supporters around the country to amplify the call to end the unabated clampdown on human rights workers.

“We thank everyone for joining us in this opportunity to reconnect and to come together as a community in celebrating our shared struggle to defend human rights while we build peaceful movements for change. Despite the threats and attacks, we remain steadfast in our mission to uphold the dignity of every person”, said Chairperson Chito Gascon during his opening remarks.

As a National Human Rights Institution, the CHR stands by its commitment to safeguard human rights defenders as they are a critical force for the protection of human rights and integral to the realisation of sustainable development goals.

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders lists several fundamental rights necessary for their work—freedom of association, peaceful assembly, expression and opinion, the right to be protected and the right to effective remedy.
“Human rights workers are operating under difficult times as they become targets of harassment and red-tagging, yet they all keep pushing back to make sure that our people can enjoy their fundamental human rights and can lead lives free from violence and repression”, added Chairperson Gascon.

The Commission strives to promote safe and empowering spaces, such as this gathering, for members of the human rights community to articulate the challenges that threaten their security and impede their work. They must be able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. It is therefore particularly important that the protection of the safety of human rights defenders be reaffirmed as a crucial standard.

The CHR urges the Philippine government to stay faithful to its international obligations and to create enabling environment for a meaningful participation of human rights defenders and the public in the development processes.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/chr-stands-in-solidarity-with-human-rights-defenders-calls-out-attacks-against-t/2476206075829256/

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[Event] Alab ng Puso -CHR

COME ONE, COME ALL! 🎉

Join the Commission on Human Rights and its partners for a day of music and celebration. On December 10th, drop by the CHR Central Office in UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City to take part in the festivities for the long-awaited Human Rights Day.

Support our local artists at the Human Rights Bazaar, and treat yourself to some snacks, crafts, and other goods made by the human rights community and members of society’s vulnerable sectors. The Bazaar will run all the way from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM, so stop by when you can.

Once the sun sets, jam with us at the Alab ng Puso: Human Rights Concert! An annual musical event, Alab ng Puso celebrates our human rights and dignity through music. The curtains rise at 6:00 PM, with many talented performers lined up.

Join our community for this night of fun and enjoyment, here at CHR! Admission is free!

#HumanRightsDay
#AlabNgPuso
#YouthStandingUpForHumanRights

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[Event] IMAGES OF HUMAN RIGHTS: PAST AND PRESENT Photo Exhibit of Political Cartoons of MAG member, Dr. William “Net” Billones

As part of the celebration for the International Human Rights Day 2019, the Commission on Human Rights and the Medical Action Group invites you to:

IMAGES OF HUMAN RIGHTS: PAST AND PRESENT
Photo Exhibit of Political Cartoons of MAG member, Dr. William “Net” Billones

The launching of the exhibit will be held tomorrow, 10:00 AM – 12:00 NN at CHR Bulwagang Diokno. See you there!

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[Statement] CHR spokesperson on the Philippine fishing boat rammed by a Chinese vessel and our right to self-determination

The Commission on Human Rights echoes the condemnation of the Department of National Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs, and other concerned Philippine officials and parties against the acts of a Chinese fishing vessel, which rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat, then merely leaving 22 Filipino fishers as casualties in open water without help.

We believe that asserting our sovereignty and the right of our fishers to rightfully gain economically from the resources found off the coast of Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, a country’s exclusive economic zone, protects our people’s right to self-determination.

Not only does the exercise of this right underscores the parity of peoples in rights and opportunity, but also serves as a guiding principle for other nations to respect others’ sovereignty and international political status.

To this end, we affirm the need to protest the said incident before the Chinese government, and for our own government to appropriate robust measures that will protect the rights of all Filipinos—be it on land or at sea.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-the-chr-spokesperson-on-the-philippine-fishing-boat-rammed-by-a-chi/2144817495634784/

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[Statement] Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the mistaken arrest of journalist Margarita Valle

Carrying out arrests must be done with the utmost due diligence. The slightest mistake impacts the fundamental rights of the arrested person. The Constitution clearly outlines the standards on how it should be carried out, which law enforcement authorities must always abide in the exercise of their duty. In particular, the right to call or have access to a lawyer is guaranteed in the bill of rights.

The mistaken arrest of Margarita Valle puts into question the PNP’s manner and guidelines of serving arrest warrants. When fundamental rights are at stake, only the highest standards must be observed for the consequences could be irreversible. Considering the current climate of impunity and growing reports of harassment and red tagging, cases of mistaken identity raise doubts and fears. For our part, the CHR Regions X and IX have dispatched a quick response team to investigate and closely monitor this case towards its just resolution.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-atty-jacqueline-ann-de-guia-on-the-mistaken-arrest/2138491302934070/

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[Statement] CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the recent offences against women’s dignity

Media plays a powerful role in shaping mindsets on critical issues. As such, they are seen as secondary duty bearers charged with the duty to equally ensure that their conduct contributes to the protection and promotion of rights.

As such, the Commission on Human Rights lauds ABS-CBN for not condoning inappropriate behaviour, including a rape joke, made in one of its programs. We believe that appropriating a sanction for the offence made, rather than dismissing it as a display of humour, sends a strong message on the need to respect everyone’s rights and dignity, especially women. We hope that this episode on national television serves as a teachable moment for all Filipinos.

On a similar note, we urge the University of Santo Tomas to ensure that those who leaked the lewd photos and videos of women without their consent are dealt with the highest standards of justice and human dignity in mind.

Schools and universities are expected to help shape values of their students, alongside parents and guardians. It is, then, in the best interest of the children to be able to correct actions early, particularly those seen to disrespect and devalue the humanity of others by disregarding their rights, while those who can be made accountable before our laws are tried for the alleged wrong that was done. In this way, we demonstrate that human rights are everyone’s concern—not of only those involved in violations.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/commission-on-human-rights-of-the-philippines/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-atty-jacqueline-ann-de-guia-on-the-recent-offences/2133268653456335/

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[In the news] CHR to gov’t: Address conditions pushing children to commit crimes -RAPPLER.com

CHR to gov’t: Address conditions pushing children to commit crimes

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged the government to address the problems that push children to commit crimes, instead of “confining” kids as young as 9 and holding them liable.

“We urge the government to address conditions that push children to such circumstances, rather than placing the burden on a child for the failures of institutions meant to protect them,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Monday, January 21.

The House committee on justice approved a bill that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old.

Read full article@www.rappler.com

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[Event] ‘Karapatan Dapat,’ a video and songwriting contest for human rights! -CHR

The Commission on Human Rights invites you to join ‘Karapatan Dapat,’ a video and songwriting contest for human rights!

With the theme “Stand up for someone’s rights today,” it is time to harness the power of tune, words, and visuals to communicate the meaning of human rights and promote human dignity.

Open to all Filipinos, amateur or professional. Deadline of entries is on 5 February 2018.

Download the mechanics and application form here: http://bit.ly/2ARis5W

#StandUp4HumanRights #DignityOfAll

Watch video @web.facebook.com/chrgovph/videos

Website: http://chrgovph.com/
Facebook: @chrgovph

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[Statement] Defunding CHR Shows How Little the Duterte Admin Value Human Rights -CTUHR

Defunding CHR Shows How Little the Duterte Admin Value Human Rights

Whilst condemnation of war on drugs and spate of extra judicial killings heightens day by day, the House of Representative on September 12, defunded the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and gave it a measly Php1,000 (US$20) for 2018.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) sees it as both bizarre and telling how the Duterte administration values human rights, if indeed it sees a value in it, looking at the way this country is governed. Its allies in Congress has completely ignored the fact that its hatred of CHR Chair Chito Gascon is unacceptable ground for attacking an institution tasked to specifically check on the state human rights violations and to ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled by the state. The establishment of CHR after Martial Law is a reminder to the government that violations committed by the Marcos dictatorship must not be repeated.

CTUHR however, underscores that CHR had in many times, even when it was much needed, failed to fulfill its mandate. The CHR was silent and kept a blind eye amidst numerous state-perpetrated violations – from violent and bloody strike dispersals to extrajudicial killings in the past, even when all evidence speak clearly against alleged perpetrators. It chose to speak out when it was politically convenient for some or most of those in the Commission. Even at present when peasants, Lumads, workers and other human rights defenders were killed, it was silent until the war on drugs. As Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said (and published), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the CHR have a good relationship, shown by the few human rights violations filed against the military. This plain but weighty reason has discouraged victims, even lost their faith in the CHR.

“But the naked attacks and use of public funds by administration allies in Congress, in an attempt to silence or even destroy an institution mandated to uphold and protect human rights violations is very wrong and tyrannical. It’s such a shame that we continue to have lawmakers who cannot transcend beyond themselves and their hunger for power as against the rights and welfare of the nation’s majority,” Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director said.

SAGIP Partylist Rodante Marcoleta who raised the motion to give CHR Php 1,000 and supported by 119 others in the House of Representatives has slammed the CHR for listening “more to the United Nations special rapporteur” and for its failure to protect President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights when he was criticized for his war on drugs.

Arago pointed out that it is appalling to see many of the country’s lawmakers who are either ignorant or playing ignorant about state responsibility and accountability on human rights. The Center finds it preposterous that while the House of Representatives is defunding a very important institution like the CHR, it is allocating P900 million from people’s money to the bloody war on drugs.

“Now, more than ever, the CHR needs to be active and to remain faithful to its mandate in tackling human rights violations engendered by war on drugs, war against human rights defenders, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law in Mindanao and the mind conditioning for the return of nationwide Martial Law,” Arago added.

Since Duterte came to office, 88 human rights activists and defenders, mostly from the peasant sector, have been killed. The war in Marawi and the Martial Law in Mindanao has cost hundreds of lives of innocent people. The war on drugs has a death toll of more than 13,000 (from PNP operations and vigilante killings).

The group also criticized how the Duterte administration has severely cut the budget from social services that benefit the poor, abandoning whatever he promised the poor will change their lives. The administration has slashed around Php10 billion or about 80% reduction from housing, when the government says housing backlogs remain huge. It has also reduced budget for health, labour and employment, agriculture etc. while putting billions of money to its neoliberal “Build, build, build” program, intelligence fund, police and military.

“Indeed, change has come, but it is deadly for the poor and will be darker even more,” Arago ended.#

Reference:
Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director
Contact number: 0916 248 4876

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[Statement] Reducing CHR’s 2018 Budget to P1,000: Cheapening Human Rights -FIND

PRESS STATEMENT
Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
12 September 2017

Reducing CHR’s 2018 Budget to P1,000:
Cheapening Human Rights

The late nationalist legislators Diokno, Tañada, Recto, and Salonga and summarily killed activist desaparecidos must be turning in their graves.

The House of Representatives desires to sound the death knell for the Commission on Human Rights by reducing its proposed 2018 budget to a pathetic P1,000. Ending the life of a constitutionally created “independent office” is beyond the congressional power of the purse. The virtual abolition is patently unconstitutional.

By directly creating the CHR, the Constitution seeks to insulate the national human rights institution from interference and pressure of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and from partisan control and influence.

It is worth noting that as of August 16, 2017, the CHR is one of only 75 national human rights institutions in the world considered fully compliant with the Paris Principles that defines standards of competence and responsibilities, guarantees of independence, and methods of operation, among other requisites of a national human rights institution.

It is imperative to supplant the culture of violence and death created by unabated extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other grave human rights violations by a culture of human rights that the CHR aims to develop and sustain.

Four months ago, during the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines’ human rights performance by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Philippines proudly reported that it generously increased the budget of the CHR. Indeed, it rose by 39.59%, from P439.7-M in 2016 to P727.9-M in the current year, which increase the CHR truly deserves to enable it to effectively protect and promote human rights.

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[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.

https://web.facebook.com/afad.online/photos/a.637366142942226.1073741825.141248195887359/1690280974317399/?type=3&theater

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[Press Release] Commission on Human Rights Issues Resolution on ‘Rape-Joke’ Case -CHR

Commission on Human Rights Issues Resolution on ‘Rape-Joke’ Case

chito duterte copy

CHR logoThe Commission on Human Rights (CHR) today released its resolution on Case No.
2016-078 involving the complaint filed by women leaders against Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
for Violation of the Magna Carta of Women for words & acts by him during the Presidential
campaign.

The CHR, in the dispositive part of the resolution, found the words & actions of
Mayor Duterte to be discriminatory of women that is enjoined by the Magna Carta of
Women. The CHR has asked the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of
Interior and Local Government (DILG) to consider taking appropriate measures for the
violation of the Magna Carta by Mayor Duterte.

Chairperson Chito Gascon said that, “The CHR has the sacred constitutional duty to
protect human rights and to call out persons when these rights are violated no matter what
their position in society may be. The Commission beheves that this mandate does not
exculpate Mayor Duterte from acts committed or words uttered in the course of the
electoral campaign when it involves breaches to fundamental rights, in this case, the
prohibition of gender-based discrimination and violence,”

The same resolution had also made further recommendations to other government
agencies to take positive steps to prevent similar incidents from further happening, to wit:

1. For the Congress to revisit the Magna Carta of Women and to include other
punitive sanctions for direct violations by individuals of the rights
enumerated therein; and to amend Republic Act No. 7877, otherwise known
as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, in order to require all employers to
conduct yearly gender sensitivity seminars for all its employees;
2. For the Commission on Elections to ordain and institute a code of conduct for
candidates for public office and political parties to adhere to gender-sensitive
language and conduct during campaigns, and to promote the rights of
women;
3. For the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education,
and other educational institutions, to incorporate gender mainstreaming and
gender sensitivity education in their curricula in order to foster a culture of
respect for the rights of women; and

4. For the Civil Service Commission to study the passage of a resolution
requiring all government officials to undergo yearly gender sensitivity
seminars pursuant to Philippine obligations under the Magna Carta of
Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, and to adopt measures to eliminate
prejudices and customary practices that are anchored on the idea of the
inferiority of either of the sexes or their stereotypical roles.

CHR expressed hope that because this complaint had been given due course and
that after serious consideration a resolution on the matter has been issued involving the
conduct of Mayor Duterte, that all stakeholders and in particular public officials would
at all times deport themselves in fully respecting the rights of women guaranteed by the
Magna Carta of Women.

CONTACT PERSON:
ATTY. KRISSI SHAFINNA TWYLA RUBIN
Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights Center
09175874660 / 294-8640
Karapatang Pantao: Likas Sa Atin, Tungkulin Natin
Commonwealth Avenue, UP, Complex, Diliman, 1101, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. Nos, 927-0172 • 928^2018

Republika ng Pilipinas
Komisyon ng Karapatang Pantao ng Pilipinas
(Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines)
OFFICIAL RELEASE
25 May 2016
Ref. Case No. 2016-078

[Statement] PAHRA disagrees with Chito Gascon’s assessment of the present human rights situation

PAHRA disagrees with Chito Gascon’s assessment of the present human rights situation

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), with due respect to the new Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Jose Luis Gascon, strongly disagrees with his simplified comprehensive summarized assessment of the present human rights situation as found in the Sunday Inquirer, page A5, October 15, 2015 issue.

pahra logo copy

According to Chair Gascon, “cases of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrest continued to increase, even if incidences of human rights violations [HRVs] had gone down compared to the days of martial law.” “While overall, cases have dwindled,” he further explained, ”the fact that there are sharp increases in enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture is a matter of concern.”

Human rights cover civil, political rights (CPR), as well as economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR). Civil-political rights are certainly not only extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.  CPR include not only elections and the rule of law, but also, among others, the freedom of religion, of expression, of assembly and of movement.  Human rights violations include all violations of the same rights.  Such “incidences” and “cases” of violations from post-martial law times till the present certainly have neither gone down nor are they dwindling.  In fact, all are increasing, more so in the violations against ESC rights, despite of or, even perhaps, because of the democratic space we have gained since toppling the Marcos dictatorship.

One of the characteristics of this increase is the intensifying impunity of violations.  Take this example: while the Compensation Board for the Victims of Human Rights Violations During Martial Law is considering the applications of an increased number from the 25,000 to 75,000 as the supposed “official” quantity of victims of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights violations – a short-fall, almost all of their perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice.  Some have even sought and obtained political power, while others are seeking higher seats of national governance.

Besides the numbers already amassed in the past, impunity may have denied many more people of their rights through the alleged violations done in large-scale electoral and economic corruption and plunder cases.

There is also a danger in using the terms “incidents” and “cases” as it seems to be used to downplay the gravity of the human rights situation in assessing the human rights record of the Benigno S. Aquino administration.  It also either implies or gives the impression that the lower the “incidents”, the less victims, the less perpetrators.  It further tends to gloss over as well as the official positions of perpetrators involved.  It covers up the dark side of command responsibility which is “command conspiracy”. The Ampatuan/Maguindanao Massacre, for example, could be just “one” incident with 58 victims and could involve a long list of human rights violators for Chair Chito.  But, why not 58 incidents of violations against the right to life and other fundamental freedoms?  The Tampacan Massacre should not just be “one incident”of tactical error, but the killing of Juvy Capion, the killing of her unborn child, the killing of Juvy’s son, Jordan Capion, 13 years old; and the killing of her other son, John Capion, 8 years old.

The Chair should take into account the violations against hundreds of thousands of farmer beneficiaries and their families whose lands, from which hold a bundle of human rights, whether covered by CARP or CARPER, have been withheld through sinister manipulations of the technicalities of the rule of law at the different levels of governance.  He should count in the tens of thousands of indigenous peoples whose ancestral lands or domains, which are sources of subsistence, of quality of life with dignity and of wholistic development, have been intruded into, taken over and / or devastated by extractive companies, such as mining and logging, and by development aggression done by both secular and religious entities, and not just one or two incidences or cases of land grabbing.

The Chair should examine and monitor closely and objectively the incidences and/or cases of violations perpetrated against workers, in the name of contractualization, in both local, international and transnational companies on the latter’s right to work, such as in the manufacturing and in the fishing industries. The reduction or even absence of strikes should not be automatically be equated to incidences or cases of violations to have gone down or dwindled. Remember the May 13, 2015 Kentex fire which killed 72 workers? This exemplied the national and local governments sacrificing people to the all-consuming fire of business greed. It may also be helpful for the CHR’s monitoring of the country’s tuna industry present compliance in respecting human rights by reading a 2012 research funded by the US Department of Labor on the Indicators of Forced Labor in the Supply Chains of the Tuna Industry in the Philippines.

No, Chair Gascon, the over-all cases or incidences of human rights violations have neither gone down nor dwindled.  Rather, just like your particular observation “…that there are sharp increases in enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture …”,  the over-all cases or incidences of HRVs are increasing and will multiply exponentially when the State embeds into its structures of governance the causes of human rights violations and impunity.

In desiring for a major step to reduce violations and impunity, PAHRA asks the National Human Rights Institution to take a lead role in rallying all Human Rights Defenders to ensure that human rights become the framework and basis permeating all talks and agreements in the on-going Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) so that inclusivity in growth and in societies would be towards the progressive realization of all human rights for all.  To this move, PAHRA will determinedly converge.

Justice and dignity for us all,

Max M. de Mesa
Chairperson, PAHRA

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