CHR bats for law to protect rights activists from violence
MANILA, Philippines – Following another attack on a human rights worker, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called for the passage of a bill that would protect rights activists from violence.
In a statement on Friday, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the recent attack on Brandon Lee of the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), is proof that the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill is needed.
“These numerous acts of violence prove the immediate need for a law that will safeguard human rights defenders against senseless loss their lives and other forms of assault while fighting for the rights and dignity of every Filipino,” De Guia said.
“It is equally part of the government’s obligation to make sure that human rights defenders and activists can do their work without fearing for their safety, and the safety of their family and loved ones,” she added.
On Tuesday, Lee, a paralegal volunteer for IPM and a local journalist, was shot in front of his house in Lagawe town in Ifugao province. He is suspected of having ties with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communist movement.
Lee was hurt in the attack and was rushed to a hospital for treatment. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) claimed that before the incident, military personnel from the Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion were seen around the IPM office, Lee’s house, and the houses of other rights activists.
At present, the version of the House of Representatives of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill, which is marked as House Bill No. 9199 has hurdled the third and final reading. However, opposition senators claimed that the measure is being delayed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies in the Senate.
According to Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, there are at least 134 human rights workers killed under the Duterte presidency.
“We cannot continue to allow a culture of violence to fester in our society. This rhetoric, alongside the vilification of human rights as a concept, leads to violence against innocents,” De Guia said.
“Whether they are activists, lawyers, or government workers, it is important that they can do their work and exist without risk of violence at every turn,” she added. /muf
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