Tag Archives: Commission on Human Rights

[Statement] CHR spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the move to deport a Taiwan OFW over online criticisms against the government

Statement of CHR spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the move to deport a Taiwan OFW over online criticisms against the government

The Commission on Human Rights notes that our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) continue to be one of the sectors hardest hit by the consequences of lockdowns across the world. Many of these Filipinos, hailed as ‘modern heroes,’ are forced by current circumstances to head back home without any certainty of jobs to go back to.

In similar instances, our Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) are present in different countries as an extension of our government’s Department of Labor and Employment. Their primary mandate is to promote and protect the general welfare of OFWs.

As one of the direct contacts to the Philippine government, POLOs deal with an array of OFW concerns, including violations of work contracts while in host countries, providing temporary shelters when necessary, ensuring medical assistance, and assisting in the repatriation of workers, among others, especially in times of crises.

It is then a cause of concern when a Labor Attaché works towards the deportation of Filipina caregiver, later named Elanel Egot Ordidor employed in Yunlin County, Taiwan, over what appears to be an exercise of her right to express concerns on the plight of fellow Filipinos in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A statement of the Labor Secretary on Sunday, 26 April, assured that ’there will be an observance of due process.’ However, we equally stress that our Bill of Rights, enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, also guarantees the citizens’ freedom of speech, of expression, or the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievance.

We continue to remind the government that public service requires a higher tolerance for opinions and criticisms, especially that democracy works best when there are healthy discourses on governance; thereby, allowing greater accountability from our public officials.

While the government continues to cite that certain rights can be restricted in the context of public emergencies, we caution against the application of these restrictions beyond the allowable parameters of human rights law—that they should always be legal, necessary, and proportionate. Any overreach may result in human rights violations.

In the face of a pandemic which threatens almost every aspect of our life, we hope that the government, including its representatives here and abroad, can direct greater efforts in preserving the rights and dignity of Filipinos by finding ways to curb the transmission of the virus and cushion its impacts, especially to vulnerable sectors.

We continue to reiterate that laws, including the declaration of a national health emergency, are ultimately meant to protect rights. Holding public office grants powers, but also entails great responsibilities—to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.


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[Statement] on the Simple Application of Chronological Age as Basis for Policy Response Against COVID-19 -Com. Karen Gomez-Dumpit, CHR

Commissioner Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit, (Focal Commissioner on Aging and the Rights of Older Persons) on the Simple Application of Chronological Age as Basis for Policy Response Against COVID-19

We appeal to the national government to reconsider the simple application of chronological age as a criteria for the restriction of movement under the general community quarantine scheme. In particular, this policy prohibits older people, or those aged 60 years and above, from going outside their homes in moderate- and low-risk areas for COVID-19.

The older population is a heterogeneous group and the risks they face vary depending on different, sometimes compounded, factors such as their physical health (existence of comorbidity), the socio-economic conditions they are in, their living arrangements, and dependency on care. Not all older people have pre-existing health conditions and have poor health that makes them vulnerable to being severely infected with the novel coronavirus. It is important to note that not all older people live with family members whom they can rely on for food and other essential needs. A policy solely based on old age runs the risk of disproportionately discriminating older people who need to go outside their homes for essential activities, including work and the procurement of basic goods and services, and those who live alone or with other older family members.
A potentially discriminatory policy based solely on age should have no room in health crisis responses, especially when the right to life, health, and an adequate standard of living is at risk. We need human rights- and evidence-based approach to dealing with this crisis, which takes into consideration the diversity of the needs of older people in different situations.

We recommend the relaxation of the rules in the general community quarantine scheme where older people should not be “prohibited,” but only “discouraged” from going outside their homes. This not only respects the autonomy of older people to decide for their own, but it would also protect them from the punitive aspects of the enforcement of the community quarantine.

We recognize the importance of law enforcement in order to contain and stem the spread of this virus. However, it is important to discern the most appropriate response that does not disregard or overlook the particular needs of different sectors, especially the marginalized.

Further, instead of one-sided policies that shift the full responsibility to contain the virus to the citizens, we urge the national government and local government units to intensify the implementation of positive measures that will enable the disadvantaged members of society to comply with quarantine rules. For older persons, this includes the speedy distribution of social pension and other cash- and non-cash based assistance for basic necessities while maintaining physical distancing, and the engagement of communities to aid older people in need of any type of assistance and care.

With this, we renew our commitment to work with the national government and local government units and to continue doing our role as the country’s national human rights institution of the country as we move forward in this fight against COVID-19.


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[Statement] Immediately remove CHR Commissioners “Midnight” Appointment!-PAHRA

Immediately remove CHR Commissioners “Midnight” Appointment!-PAHRA
April 20, 2015

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File photo source: Jess M. Escaros Jr. balita.ph

File photo source: Jess M. Escaros Jr. balita.ph

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), after judiciously discerning received  reliable information, calls for the immediate removal of CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales, Commissioners Ma. Victoria Cardona and Norberto dela Cruz for committing a grave abuse of discretion in making a “midnight” and procedurally-flawed appointment of a person with questionable eligibility, Atty. Marc Titus Cebreros, as CHR Executive Director.

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The 4th Commission on Human Rights has been earlier assessed by different human rights groups as under par in performance.  Then came the Ombudsman’s historic decision of dismissing former Commissioner  Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing due to graft and corruption and abuse of authority. This was followed by the en banc resolution of finding Com. Norberto dela Cruz of human rights violations and pending case in Ombudsman filed against him by a former staff for misconduct.

After such incidents, one would have expected that the mentioned Commissioners would be more circumspect in their personal and collective behavior and decisions being top officers of the prime human rights institution of the country.  But no, the already eroded integrity and credibility of the CHR further deteriorated in making, with sheer absence of delicadeza, this “midnight” appointment.

What alarms us the most is that this grave abuse of discretion may become a justifiable precedent action and a new acceptable standard for Commissioners and personnel of CHR.  Much less should it be implanted and perpetuated in the institution.

Whether this grave abuse of discretion has been done near the end or at any period of any Commissioner’s term, it merits the same disciplinary action.  It goes against the common Paris Principles for NHRIs in the areas of transparency, accountability and rule of law. If unattended or unresolved, the integrity, credibility and consequent strength of our National Human Rights Institution would be eroded further and its status lowered before the national public, regional and international human rights communities.

This is unacceptable.  This should stop now.


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[Press Release] Civil society groups nominate staunch human rights advocates for CHR posts -PAHRA

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.

Contact Person:
Rose Trajano
Secretary General- PAHRA
Mobile No.​ 0906-553-1792​
Email add.​ pahra@philippinehumanrights.org​

March 5 2015

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[Press Release] Ombudsman’s order to dismiss Commissioner breaks impunity in CHR -PAHRA

Press Release: Ombudsman’s order to dismiss Commissioner breaks impunity in Commission on Human Rights
September 9, 2014

Human Rights groups welcomed the unprecedented decision of the Ombudsman to order the dismissal of Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after “finding probable cause for Direct Bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code” and violating section 3(e) of Republic Acts (RA) 3019 and sec. 7 (d) of R.A. 6713. These findings and information would be filed with the Sandiganbayan. In its 27 years since established, this judgment is the first of its kind against a top officer of the CHR.


The findings highlighted elements of corruption and Quisumbing’s obvious intent to be recipient of complainant Eugenio’s salary differential by taking advantage of her functions and authority as CHR Commissioner”

In addition the complainants alleged that Quisumbing violated the dignity of some of her co-terminus staff by giving oppressive disciplinary actions, demeaning instructions and humiliating them in public. Sometimes, though office staff, they were doing chores more akin to a domestic helper or a family driver. These actions were said to have been brought to the attention of the CHR Chairperson and other Commissioners as early as 2010. No action to rectify the situation seemed to have been taken at that time. Violations continued and accumulated until some staff decided to file charges of corruption, unethical behavior and abuse of authority.

“Napuno na kami,” explained Ma. Regina D. Eugenio, together with other co-terminus staff, Elizabeth Diego-Buizon, Alexander B. Fernandez and Jesse K. Ayuste . “Di na naming masikmura ang pagyurak sa aming pagkatao.” (We had enough. We could no long stomach her trampling on our human dignity.) According to them, each had experienced being made to respond like robots waiting to move on voice commands. The staff sought the help of an NGO human rights organization to prepare for the filing.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) sees the decision as a breakthrough against the impunity happening in the Commission on Human Rights. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, points out: “The decision implicitly indicts the leadership and other Commissioners of the CHR, for the delayed justice due Regina and her co-staff, despite the testimonies and evidences in their hands since last year.”

Furthermore, “This shows the imperative to embed into the new Charter of the CHR the accountability mechanism for the Commissioners and the Directors,” de Mesa added, “as well as having a more transparent and participative way of selecting the next Commissioners by the President.”

The dismissal of Commissioner Quisumbing was based on her violating Section 7 (d) of RA no. 6713 on the Code of Ethics for government employees and also of Grave Misconduct. The Dismissal included “all its accessory penalties”. This means “cancellation of eligibility”, “forfeiture of retirement benefits” and “perpetual disqualification for re-employment in government service”. This also mean that there will be one less CHR Commissioner who will receive P100,000 plus monthly pension for life that the public will have to contribute from their taxes.

The decision was signed by Jasmine Ann B. Gapatan and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales last August 28, 2014.

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[Press Release] Ombudsman orders suspension of CHR Commissioner -PAHRA

Ombudsman orders suspension of CHR Commissioner

On Valentine’s Day , Feb. 14, 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered an immediate execution of a  Preventive Suspension of CHR Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing without pay for the period of six (6) months pending investigation of cases filed against her. According to the Ombudsman, preventive suspension can be meted if the evidence  of guilt is strong and that the charges involved oppression and grave misconduct which may eventually warrant removal from office. The order shall not be un interrupted within the prescribed period notwithstanding appeal, motion of petition that may be filed by Com. Quisumbing.

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The Office of the Ombudsman is investigating  Com. Quisumbing  for administrative and criminal cases which stemmed from a formal complaint filed by Ms. Regina Eugenio last September 24, 2013 against her  former employer Com. Quisumbing ( OMB-C-A 13 -0334 :  Violation of RA 6713  Sec. 7(d) or  Solicitation or Acceptance of Gifts ) and Criminal case  (OMB-C-C- 13-0354: Violation of RPC 210- Direct Bribery, RA 3019 Sec 3(b), 3(c), 3 (e) 6713  Sec. 7(d) ) and RA 6713  Sec. 7(d) . The complaints were corroborated by three (3) other former co-personnel of Ms. Eugenio.

Another Commissioner of the CHR, Com. Norberto dela Cruz is also facing  several complaints from his former driver, Mr. Nemesio Mendoza filed with the Office of Chairperson last 2013 and August 2013 but until now, no substantive actions have been taken by the Commission. The complaints earlier include alleged unfair labor practice and immorality.   Later, an incident wherein the Commissioner supposedly punched the complainant in the face  within the compound of the Commission.  Mr. Mendoza is preparing to file another charge against Com. Dela Cruz.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) had been assisting the complainants on their quest for justice against the alleged human rights violations committed by members of  an institution which is expected among all other agencies to have a higher value on the protection and promotion of human rights.  PAHRA, in the meantime, has also complied with the request by the Legal Affairs Office of the Office of the President to submit supporting documents of the cases and other concerns involving the two Commissioners.

Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, said: “Such incidences of violations, though alleged, by avowed promoters and protectors of human rights, cannot but erode the credibility of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).”

PAHRA firmly reiterates its call to:

  • To designate an independent committee of inquiry especially regarding the case against Com. Norberto dela Cruz as well as to recommend measures and actions that would strengthen the CHR;
  • To certify as urgent the passage of the new Charter of the CHR with the added provisions on the selection process of the Commissioners and the Mechanism for Transparency and Accountability of the Commissioners and Directors;
  • To create a committee that would propose a process of selection for the next new members of the CHR similar to the selection of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Contact person: Rose Trajano, 0906-553-1792

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[In the news] Wheel of torture: 10 cops relieved -INQUIRER.net

Photo by CHRP, Extracted from PDI

Photo by CHRP, Extracted from PDI

Wheel of torture: 10 cops relieved
41 detainees maltreated at secret PNP facility
By Cynthia D. Balana, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 29, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Ten Philippine National Police officers have been sacked following revelations they played a so-called “wheel of torture” game at a secret detention facility to extract information from criminal suspects and also to have fun, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Tuesday.


The CHR is looking into the alleged maltreatment of up to 41 detainees in the PNP facility in Biñan, Laguna province, according to the commission.

Under the game, detainees—mostly suspected drug traffickers—were punched if the “torture wheel” stopped at “20 seconds Manny Pacman,” referring to a nickname of popular boxer Manny Pacquiao, or hung upside down if it stopped at a punishment called “30-second bat,” said Amnesty International, the London-based rights group. It called the practice despicable.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/570457/filipino-cops-accused-of-using-wheel-of-torture#ixzz2ro4hGaEw
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Wheel of torture: 10 cops relieved

[Blogger] Ang Pagkain ng Dumagat – by Bro. Martin Francisco

Ang Pagkain ng Dumagat
by Bro. Martin Francisco

Nangangagutom at nangangamatay ang mga kasalukuyang mga katutubong Dumagat sa bahaging Bulakan. At ang itinuturing na dahilan nito ayon sa mga katagalugan ay TAMAD ang mga Dumagat magsipagtrabaho. Ganito rin ang kalalagayan at paniniwala ng ilang katutubo na ‘natagalugan na’ at ng mga Unat (panawag sa Tagalog ng Dumagat) sa loob ng Sierra Madre na sakop ng lupaing ninuno.

Tamad nga ba ang mga katutubo? Kultura nga ba nila ang mag-ipon ng sobra-sobra o kahit kaunti sa panahon ng kagipitan tulad ng ginagawa ng mga katagalugan? Ano nga ba ang katotohanan sa mga ganitong akusasyon sa mga itinuturing na nabubuhay lamang sa “hand-to-mouth existence” o nisang kahit-isang tuka at sa rasyon o “dole-out system” ang mga Dumagat?

Ang pananaw ng karamihang mga Tagalog na HINDI nakakaunawa sa tunay na kalagayan ng mga Dumagat kung bakit silang nangangagutom at nangangamatay magpahanggang ngayon ay dahilan sa ang mga katutubo daw ay bukod sa tamad, ay mangmang pa sa makabagong pagsasaka, marurumi, at gusto lamang ay maging palaasa sa mga rasyon o donasyon ng pamahalaan at ng mga grupong tumutulong – mapasimbahan man o NGO. Na ang kasipagan ay nangangahulugan para sa mga katagalugan na bungkalin o linangin ang lahat ng lupa simula sa pagtotroso at pag-uuling tungo sa pagkakaingin hanggang tuluyang maging taniman o makalbo ang kabundukan na dating hitik na kagubatan.

Ngunit kung bawat tao, Tagalog man o katutubo ngayon at ng mga grupo o indibiduwal na may pusong makatulong na nagmamahal sa mga Dumagat ay mamumulat sa tunay na kalalagayan sa kabundukan ng Sierra Madre at sa kultura ng mga Dumagat ay MAUUNAWAAN ng tunay na kasagutan sa mga MALI at SOBRANG paraan o akusasyon sa mga Dumagat.

Mamumulat ang lahat na bago pa dumating ang sinu man maging ang itinuturing na pamahalaan ngayon na dapat sana’y siyang mangunang tumulong lakip ang pagmamalasakip at ng mga taong “matatalino” at “edukado” lakip ang kanilang ipinagmamalaking “sibilisasyon kanluranin” ay NARIRITO NA sa kagubatan ng Sierra Madre ang mga katutubong nabubuhay ng payapa na ligtas sa mapanirang impluwensya ng katagalugan (negative values), busog at nabuhay ng masagana dulot ni Makedepat na itinuturing nilang Diyos na Mapagbigay.

Sa matagal na panahon na hindi nagagalaw ng sinu mang taga-kapatagan ang Sierra Madre o Mahabe Pagotan sa wikang Dumagat ay namumuhay ng payapa ang mga katutubong Dumagat sa PAGPAPAIKUT-IKOT nito na muling nagbabalik matapos ang ilang taon sa kanilang nakagisnang lugar na itinuturing nilang lupaing ninuno. Walang pagsasamantala sa kagubatan at walang pagmamalabis sa yaman ng kabundukan sa kagustuhang mapanatili at muling mapayabong ang anu man kanilang nakuha o inari sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay pahinga sa lupa, sa pagpapaubayang makasibol muli ang kagubatan, at sa pamumuhay lang simple na may kakaunting pangangailangan sa kagustuhang mabuhay ng masaya at maayos, ligtas sa anu mang pagkakasakit, kagutuman at kapahamakan sa mga dayuhan.

Ganito ang ginawa ng mga purong Dumagat noon at magpahanggang ngayon sa iilan pang pamayanang natitira sa liblib ng Sierra Madre. Ngunit sa kasalukuyan ay mas marami nang katutubong Dumagat ang nagpapagamit sa mga katagalugan upang wasakin ang Sierra Madre ng HINDI nila NAMAMALAYAN at NABABATID na nagdudulot ng HIGIT na kagutuman sa kanila. Hindi nauunawaan ng mga bagong Sibol o henerasyon ng mga kadumagatan na sa tuwing nag-aangkat sila ng kaisipang Unat sa pamumuhay nila sa kabundukan ay lalong nadadali ang kanilang pagkalaho. At hindi na kinakailangan pa ang mga Tagalog o dayuhan ang magwasak nito bagkus ay sila na mismong mga katutubong walang maisip kundi ang kumain lamang sa kasalukuyan at magkamal ng higit na yaman.

Nakalimutan na ng maraming Dumagat na ang Sierra Madre ang siyang bumuhay sa kanilang tribu at hindi ang pumatay. Hindi ang pagiging taong-gubat ang dapat sisihin sa pagkawasak ng yaman sa kanila na sanay dapat ikabubuhay. Dapat pakaisiping mabuti ng kasalukuyang henerasyon ng mga katutubong Dumagat ang anu mang gagawin nila sa kanilang tribu, sa kanilang kultura at sa kanilang Sierra Madre.

Mayaman ang lupaing ninuno ng mga katutubo at sobra-sobra ang inilaang biyaya ni Makidepat sa tribung Dumagat na kahit ang mga kinakapatid nilang katagalugan ay maari ding buhayin kung magiging maayos lamang ang pagbibigay pahalaga sa kalikasan. Hindi dapat maging rason ang kahirapan ang pagdaming populasyon ng tao sa mundo o sa loob ng Sierra Madre kundi ang kasakiman ng bawat isa.

Pagkain ang hanap ng bawat isa? Araw-araw ay ito ang pinagkakaabalahan ng mga tao hindi lang ang mga katutubo kung saan kukunin ang isusunod na isusubo sa kanilang bibig. Palagi na lamang nagiging dahilan na di natin masisisi ang isang taong mahirap at gutom kung sakaling manira ito ng kagubatan sapagkat higit na iisipin nito ang kumakalam na sikmura kaysa ang mag-isip ng tama para sa kinabukasang tinatanaw.

Ngunit sa ganitong rason o prinsipyo ay lalong nagutom ang mas maraming tao na dati rati’y iilan lamang. Nagdulot din ito ng mas marami at komplikadong problema bilang epekto ng kaisipang pangkasalukuyang pangangailangan o “immediate needs” habang patuloy na nagmamasid ang kahabaan ng Sierra Madre ng buong kalungkutan.

Ang Sierra Madre ay isang napakayamang kabundukan. Binuhay nito at pinakain ang tribung Dumagat sa mahabang panahon at marami ng henerasyon ng mga katutubo ang payapang nakapamuhay at lumisan kapalit ng bagong grupong Dumagat. Walang tao o grupo na nagtanim ng mga kagubatan nito noon. Walang namuhunan o nagkagastos para sumibol ang mayabong na kakahuyan nito noon. Lahat ay biyaya ni Makedepat para sa lahat ng tao na nais mabuhay ng ayon sa batas ng kalikasan. Ngunit higit sa lahat ay inilaan ni Makedepat ang Sierra Madre – unang-una para sa kapakinabangan ng mga Dumagat bilang tagapag-ingat o “steward.”

Ngunit sa pagdagsa ng mga dayuhan mula sa mga Kastila, Amerikano, Hapon at kapwa nila Filipino na wala o ibang klase ang pagpapahalaga sa lupa ay nawasak ng tuluyan ang “pamingganan” ng mga katutubo. Ang tingin ng mga dayuhan sa Sierra Madre ay ginto na dapat minahin, puno na dapat trosohin, isda na dapat lasunin at kuryentehin, mga hayop na dapat pagkalibangan at pagkaperhan at mga nakatirang katutubong Dumagat na dapat pagtawanan, lokohin, gamitin sa turismo at palayasin sa lupaing ninuno.

Tuluyang nagutom ang mga Dumagat sa kabila ng mga trabahong ibinigay o ipinakilala ng mga katagalugan bilang manggagawa sa mga konstruksyon. Sa kabila ng pagtuturo sa kanila ng pagkakaingin ng malawakan at pagtatanim ng palay ay lalong nagutom ang mga Dumagat. Sumunod sila sa sistemang Tagalog ng pakikipagkalakalan na gamit ay pera na nagdulot ng lalo lamang na pagkagutom samantalang kabusugan naman ang idinudulot noong mga pagpapalitan at pagbibigayan ng pagkain ang kanilang ginagawang mga Dumagat.

Bakit nagkaganito ang kabundukan ng mga katutubo na dati namang sagana sa pagkain? Mayroon nga silang mga pera gunit lalo naman silang nangangagutom. Marami na silang nabibili ngayon na dati namang hindi nila kailangan ngunit patuloy pa rin ang kahirapan. Habang nagiging bato o semento na ang kanilang mga bahay ay lalo namang nagiging kabatuhan at kugunan ang kanilang lupaing ninuno. Umaangat nga ba ang kanilang katayuan sa lipunan o lalo lamang sila napapalubog sa kawala?

Sa ngayon ay mayroong mga Dumagat na ang panawag sa kanilay mga Remontado mula sa wikang Remontar sa wikang kastila na kahulugan na tumakas mula sa kabayanan papuntang kabundukan. Dahil nuon panahon ng Kastila ay nagpalabas ng kautusan sa bahaging kaMaynilaan na lahat ng katutubo ay kailangang pumaloob sa iisang maliit na pamayanan batay sa batas ng Reduccion o irereduce ang malawak na pamayanan ng mga katutubo sa isang poblacion para sa madaliang konbersyon sa pananampalataya at pamamahala ng mga prayle ngunit hindi ito gusto ng mga katutubo kaya silay nagpakalayu-layo sa kabundukan ng palihim kaya tinaguriang silang mga remontado.
Tatalakakayin sa paksang ito ang mga pagkain ng mga katutubong Dumagat na sa katotohanan ay ikagugulat ng lahat dahil sa kahit hindi kumain ng bigas at magtanim ang mga katutubo noon ay nabubuhay sila sa mahabang panahon. Tatalakayin din kung bakit ang mga pagkain ito ay unti-unting naglalho o tuluyan ng naglaho sa pagdagsa ng mga dayuhan.

Hahatiin natin ang talakayan sa mga sumusunod:
1. Mga dahilan ng mga pagkawala ng mga pagkain ng mga Dumagat.
2. Mga pagkain na ipinakilala sa mga Dumagat na nagpahina sa kanila ng mga Tagalog.
3. Mga pagkain na katutubo sa lupaing ninuno ng Sierra Madre na bumuhay sa kanilang tribu.

Mula sa Aklat ng, “Bakit sila Nangangamatay sa Gutom? ni Ilabe, pahina 261-263

[Blogger] Expanding the Mandate of CHR: Can a toothless tiger bite with false teeth?

Expanding the Mandate of the Commission on Human Rights:
Can a toothless tiger bite with false teeth?
by Darwin Mendiola – Carpe Diem

The human rights situation in every country is gauged not only on how its governments have performed its primary duties to promote, protect and fulfill the basic human rights of its every citizen by putting in place in its policies and programs, measures and mechanisms that guarantee redress and accountability, but also on the performance of a well functioning national human rights institutions (NHRIs) which are in charge with the compliance monitoring of the human rights performance of the states.

The role of NHRIs in fostering a culture of human rights promotion and protection has been widely recognized in recent years. It goes without saying that these days every country has to have a national human rights commission if it is really committed to human rights.

However, many governments have established their own human rights commissions just for the purpose of improving their international reputation and shielding themselves from international criticisms and scrutiny for committing gross violations of human rights. In fact, the NHRIs that have shown high level of effectiveness and independence are mostly those where its governments have the strong commitment to human rights compared to those NHRIs in countries where human rights are most seriously violated.

Philippines is said to be exceptional for having a very dynamic NHRI. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), an independent constitutional body enshrined under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, was created in 1987 with the issuance of its legislative charter, Executive Order No. 163. Its present proactive stance is said to have inspired the Filipino people to look at it as the protector and promoter of human rights in the country.

However, many are still of the opinion that even if the CHRP carries out its function well, if its powers are limited, it will still be incapable of curbing human rights transgressions. This is not mainly on the issue of having a limited power but more specifically on its defined focal functions which hardly met the criteria set forth by the Paris Principles. Although, much of the discussions on NHRI’s performance audit using this international criteria have been largely normative and legal. What I am more concerned with is its practical performance or on how it really carries its mandates and functions.

The Paris Principles require that NHRI must have a broad mandate as possible which mean the unrestricted power to promote and protect human rights. The Commission has various powers and functions as enumerated in the 1987 Constitution, among which is the power to investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights. Its principal function therefore is primarily investigatory. But this investigative power of the CHRP has been the main subject of criticisms by various sectors due to generally two reasons. First, the mere investigatory power does not give the much needed teeth that can forestall human rights violation nor provide redress for misdeed. Secondly, it is limited to political and civil rights and excludes the vast area of economic, social and cultural rights.

The reason for this according the Constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ was that the desire of the 1986 Constitutional Commission is not to overburden the Commission during its initial years and this limitation does not exclude the possibility of expanding the Commission’s scope. This is said to pose no serious problem to the Commission as it has able to transcend over the years this constitutional limitation by issuing resolutions that clearly differentiated the investigation for purposes of prosecution for civil and political violations and investigative monitoring on economic, social and cultural issues. It has even used such issues to remind the government on its obligations emanating pertinent international human rights treaties in which Philippines is a State party.

The local lawyers group, Libertas in its 2010 ANNI Report entitled, Philippines: A Time of Great Irony concluded that “the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines which once taunted as a ‘toothless tiger’, began to roar.” It was during the iniquitous Arroyo administration where the spate of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances has reached an alarming proportion that the Commission made use of its investigative power to bring human rights violations to the fore. It held public inquiries, fact finding missions and special operations to ferret out the truth behind alleged state abuses.

Hence, the need to grant the Commission the power to prosecute and adjudicate or even to the extent of converting it to a quasi-judicial body is now seriously being considered. For two decades, several bills have been filed in Congress seeking to enhance the Commission’s independence through an amendment to its legislative charter but until now it is yet to be enacted by the Philippine Congress. One suggested reform is to provide the Commission with a “standby prosecutorial powers” in cases of failure by the government prosecution body to act on human rights violations.

However despite this noble intention, others believed that the grant of such power will mean the change the nature of the CHRP as provided for in the Constitution since it may undermine its status as an independent constitutional body and as result it may clash with other prosecutorial agencies such as the Department of Justice and Ombudsman. I believe that the difference in the prosecutorial functions of the CHRP to that of other prosecutorial agencies can be best resolved by clearly defining the scope and limitations of such functions. What bothers me is the tendency of the CHRP to mistakenly identify a mere criminal offense to that of human rights violation especially if it involves non-State actor. If this is the case, perhaps CHRP should push for the enactment of a “Code on Human Rights Violation” which will delineate the distinction between the commission of a criminal act punishable by law from the violation of human rights. This is very important for the CHRP to effectively perform its prosecutorial functions.

The Paris Principles provide that NHRI should investigate and report upon potential human rights violations at the request of government or any interested party or on its own initiative. But even if the present and previous CHR’s leadership has shown activism and independence, the institution remains largely a part of the government’s bureaucracy that work on an eight to five o’clock basis and remains inept to take prompt action on urgent issues especially those situated in different regions. How if the violation is committed during weekends? It is short of saying that CHRP should set up a call center which will advice the callers that CHRP personnel will get back to them as soon as they have reported in the office. The Commission’s complaint-handling and investigation processes based on the actual experiences of human rights organizations reveal a lack of coherent policies and in most cases have undermined its effectiveness.

The CHRP as an investigative and soon as a prosecutorial body should provide a coherent procedural policies and create quick reaction teams if it accepts the need to have strong “teeth” because if not, it may find itself biting with false teeth while roaring with regrets.

The CHRP’s performance if based on the Paris Principles for me is yet to get off the mark in terms of its mandate and functions. Although, I know that there are several factors that need to be discussed as vital point of references to really come up with an objective assessment of CHRP’s performance but let me reserve those issues on my next blog article.