DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The P1,000 fund allotted by the House of Representatives to the Commission on Human Rights for 2018 will not help the committee in performing its mandate to act as an autonomous body in ensuring that the government adheres to laws protecting human rights.
In an interview with Davao Today on Wednesday, September 13, Emiliano Cajes, Jr. head of the Investigation Division of the CHR in Region 11 said the CHR is mandated to monitor compliance of the government in the protection of the rights of vulnerable sectors.
Human rights awareness
Cajes said part of their job is to conduct active information drive so the public will know the role of the commission and will be able to use its services.
People in the remote areas, he said, do not know about the Commission’s mandate and how it can help them in filing complaints against erring government officials.
“We really need to take on a more active role in informing the public of the role of the CHR,” he said.
Funding for offices
The regional office of the CHR serves Davao City and the provinces of Davao Del Norte, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley Province and has no operating municipal sub-offices.
He said to compensate for the lack of resources, the CHR would co-sponsor activities with other government agencies.
“But still it’s not enough. We need to reach out up to the barangay level,” Cajes said.
In a previous interview with Davao Today, Cajes lamented that the lack of manpower remains a challenge for the Commission to perform its duties.
From January to July 2017, the CHR’s six investigators have completed the investigation of 86 cases.
CHR 11 has recorded a total of 392 cases from July 2016. Of the total number of cases, 84 were already resolved.
From January to December last year, CHR-11 recorded 399 cases and only 114 were resolved.
The 114 resolved cases were either dismissed, closed, terminated, for filing, for monitoring or archived.
Of the 114 resolved cases, 84 were either dismissed or closed or terminated while 25 were for filing or monitoring and five were already archived.
Threat to democracy?
Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan said the Congress’ move to allocate lesser budget for the CHR is an attempt of lawmakers to clip the functions of the Commission.
“We view the recent attempts of the Duterte administration to de facto abolish the CHR as a dangerous step that undermines available mechanisms for redress for human rights violations in this so-called democratic form of government,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.
Palabay said the attempts to defund CHR comes at a time when the government is set to approve P313-billion budget to implement its counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and the war on drugs. Activists views both programs targets the poor.
In a statement on Tuesday, the CHR said Congress wrongly perceived their role “as combative rather than a collaborative effort to bolster Philippine democracy” by ensuring that government officials adhere to the principles of human rights.
“It is unfortunate that the same Lower House of Congress, who was crucial in deliberating these laws, has now chosen to deny the Commission its ability to meaningfully pursue its human rights protection, promotion, and policy-advisory functions through insufficient appropriations,” the CHR said. (davaotoday.com)Commission on Human Rights, rodrigo duterte