By Chito Chavez
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has vowed to relentlessly pursue its Constitutional duty of promoting and protecting human rights evenly, regardless of political affiliation, sexual preference, religious beliefs and cultural heritage.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said this may be a formidable task but the Commission, even in the “face of blatant challenges to our mandate and existence in the past years”, has been able to fulfill its duty to the hilt.
To recount, recent statements have circulated casting doubts on the CHR’s work, especially on the investigations of deaths linked to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
Citing records as early as 2016, the CHR has sent formal letters to the Philippine National Police (PNP), aside from its public calls, reiterating numerous requests to be provided with copies of the complete records of all cases being investigated by police in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs, especially those that resulted to deaths.
However, de Guia said the CHR has yet to receive the case folders up to the present.
She insisted this was despite the PNP’s supposed openness to cooperate with CHR as the country’s independent national human rights institution.
In a 2016, de Guia said an inquiry by the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee also sought to probe alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.
De Guia said the CHR attended and was ready to explain its side with its witnesses, but was barred from getting itself heard.
In the face of an approved UN Human Rights Council resolution which called for a comprehensive probe on the human rights situation in the Philippines, the CHR said it welcomes statements affirming the value of the Commission, even describing it as “perfectly working.”
“We look forward to such affirmations translating to support during budget deliberations and in extending support to our work when it is time for us to demand greater truth and accountability for the allegations of human rights violations made against the Filipino people’’. De Guia concluded.