‘Frustrated’ or not, Duterte must be careful with words—CHR
Faced with a threat of abolition, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday said President Rodrigo Duterte should be mindful of his words and maintained that it would continue to be a watchdog against human rights abuses.
This was after Duterte, in a post-State of the Nation Address (Sona) press conference on Monday, threatened to abolish CHR for being critical against his war on drugs and martial law declaration in Mindanao.
“Words are important in all circumstances but particularly so when uttered by the sitting President as these could quickly render into State policy—regardless of the context of such statements,” the CHR said in a statement.
Despite a clarification from Palace Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Thursday that the statement was made out of “frustration” on the “apparent biases” of the agency, CHR stressed that it will not waver from its mandate.
“We acknowledge the clarification given by the administration’s spokesperson that they were uttered in frustration, but we must stress that the CHR shall continue to perform its constitutional mandate to protect and promote the human rights of all people as a ‘watchdog’ institution that should be able to perform its functions independently without any fear or favor,” it said.
The CHR, however, pointed out that it could only do so by assuring “free and unfettered ability to conduct (their) investigations of cases of human rights violations, including any and all alleged perpetrators whether be state or non-state actors.”
It added that it will continue to seek cooperation and assistance of government bodies and other authorities to respect and fulfil all human rights.
“To this end, we shall continue to be unafraid in speaking truth to power and in demanding an end to impunity by steadfastly asking for justice and accountability,” it said.
The CHR, including its Commissioners and staff, further said they will continue to adhere to the rule of law by respecting the systems of checks and balances and separation of powers, as well as established constitutional reform processes.
“We hope that a regime of truth, freedom, and justice, anchored upon the dignity of all might ultimately prevail,” said the CHR. IDL
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