CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A human rights group has urged the new members of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to uphold the commission’s “mandate and expectations” under the presidency of Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.
Lawyer Richard Palpal-latoc and Beda Epres were recently appointed as the CHR’s chairperson and commissioner, respectively.
With this development, rights group Karapatan hopes the commission maintains its “independence, probity, integrity, and transparency” to conduct investigations on human rights violations. It also hoped that CHR will “provide prompt, responsive, accessible and excellent public service for the promotion and protection of human rights”.
The group said they expected both Palpal-latoc and Epres to address the recommendation by the previous commission during its public inquiry on the attacks and challenges against human rights defenders and its investigations into the drug war.
During the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, the CHR was under fire and verbally attacked by Duterte himself for its investigation into the numerous cases of killings, allegedly perpetrated by state agents.
Under Duterte, Karapatan said there were thousands of complaints on rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, judicial harassment, and threats. The dangers of red-tagging experienced by civilians, human rights defenders and communities also remained, she added.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general said investigations by the national human rights institution on the said complaints “need to be conducted with utmost resolve to hold the perpetrators in government accountable”.
Investigations, she added, will also ensure that government policies from which the violations emanate be addressed with the full view of making sure that the root causes are looked into and that violations will not be repeated.
The CHR, the group said, is also expected to pursue an independent role and voice amid the investigations by the International Criminal Court and the scrutiny into the Philippine human rights situation in the UN Human Rights Council and through the UN Human Rights Committee and the Universal Periodic Review.
Palabay said CHR was created as a response to the atrocities committed during Martial Law. She reminded the new appointees of the continuing immense challenges of the thousands of human rights victims, as well as their duty to uphold truth, justice, and accountability. (davaotoday.com)