Is gov’t paying lip service to human rights?

Posted by watchmen
July 1, 2024


By Ade S. Fajardo

The House of Representatives committee on human rights is now holding hearings on the thousands of deaths that resulted from the drug war implemented by the Duterte administration.

The House appears to have risen from a stupor. It used to kowtow to the wishes of the former President, even participating in the vilification of Leila de Lima who had to endure seven years of detention for drug crimes that did not have a corpus delicti.

Does this mean that congressmen training their sights on human rights violations committed by the previous administration would please the current President?


The Commission on Human Rights was created under the 1987 Constitution. Former President Corazon Aquino formally constituted it via Executive Order No. 163 in the exercise of legislative powers as the revolutionary president.

The CHR is by design independent from the traditional branches of government. It has to be because it can investigate all forms of human rights violations, provide measures of protection for the underprivileged, exercise visitorial powers over jails and detention facilities, etc.

Equally important, it is tasked to monitor the Philippines’ compliance with international obligations on human rights and recommend to Congress measures to promote those rights.


So why did Congress manacle the CHR while it is, in the same breath, trying to extol human rights by investigating the war on drugs?

The total CHR budget for 2024 is P976 million, which is one billion less than the commission’s original proposal. It is also more than P25 million less than the previous year’s allocation.

“Our MOOE, while very little, has suffered a slash of P180 million, which is very critical given the fact that our investigators have to reach far-flung areas and we rely on fuel as well as communication allowance to increase the accessibility of the CHR, especially in remote areas,” CHR executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia was quoted as saying.


The P3.8 million appropriated for assistance to victims of human rights violations is at least P10 million than the previous year’s allocation of P13 million.

According to CHR chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc, this big decrease will lead to changes that are detrimental to the cause of human rights. The monetary assistance needed by the victims will be reduced from an average of P30,000 per victim to a measly P10,000.

“P10,000 for a violation of human rights is insulting to a victim,” Palpal-Latoc said before the House appropriations committee last year.


The membership of the House committee on human rights seems to be appalled at the lack of complainants against the police operatives suspected of liquidating drug suspects at the pretense of legitimate operations.

Our good congressmen appear to be blind to the realities of litigation and deaf to the poor’s cries for justice. These drug war victims belong to the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Their access to justice is limited not only by their nonexistent means but also by the resignation of the defeated spirit./WDJ

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