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Sereno to IBP, rights protectors: Don’t be muzzled, stand for the people

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 04:15 PM November 23, 2017
Maria Lourdes Sereno

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

As she called for an end to “impunity and human rights violations” in the country, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and other human rights protectors not to be “stymied, muzzled or cowed.”

“And let no political ambition stand in the way of standing for what is right,” Sereno said at a forum called “Pagtugon sa Hamon: A Call to the Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Human Rights” held at the SMX Convention Center in Taguig City.

“Make your stand in such a way that no one will doubt that your hearts are with the Filipino people. Let your voices be heard clearly, as a call to our people to unite and defend the freedoms that our forefathers dearly paid with blood for.”

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“Lend your lives to the poor and oppressed. This is the law’s calling. This is our people’s cause,” added Sereno, who is facing an impeachment bid at the House of Representatives.

The Chief Justice said it is high time that the culture of accountability be institutionalized in order to end impunity and human rights violations in the country.

The Constitution, she said, provides for the “best logical and operational framework” to advance human rights.

Sereno said the Constitution also tasks not only the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), but also the judiciary and other independent constitutional offices, such as the Commission on Audit (COA), the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Office of the Ombudsman, to serve as “institutions of accountability” when it comes to human rights protection.

“The framework of accountability relies on the faithful discharge of duties by these independent institutions of accountability,” she said as she emphasized the need for these institutions to work in parallel with other professional justice agencies, namely the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies.

These DOJ attached agencies include the National Prosecution Service, Public Attorney’s Office, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Correction, and the Board of Pardon and Parole.

Sereno said “pressure” must continually be exerted on these institutions “to ensure that impunity ends, accountability is consistently exacted, the rule of law established and of course, resultantly, that human rights are protected.”

“Pressure is important, pressure must be continually built up, in all fora, venues and information platform –for all public officers to respect human rights, to not issue any statement that encourages a disregard for human rights, and to investigate human rights violations,” she said.

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Sereno particularly urged members of the IBP, the country’s premier organization of lawyers, to exert pressure on the police to solve crimes, such as murder, rape, robbery and widespread thievery.

“If you keep silent about these crimes, wittingly or unwittingly, you will be considered as complicit to impunity, by your perceived indifference to the victims of rape, murder, and similarly horrendous atrocities,” she said of IBP, one of the organizers of the forum. /je

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TAGS: chief justice, defend, Human rights, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, rule of law, Sereno
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