CHR opens rights space on martial law commemoration
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) opened on Tuesday new facilities in its main office, including a human rights “collaboratory” space, as it commemorated the sacrifices of people and the atrocities committed during the martial law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.
The renovations are a sign of the unwavering commitment of the CHR to uphold human rights, CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said during the program on Tuesday afternoon, which was attended by several members of the diplomatic corps.
“Our commitment as a commission, that we will, while we remain in office, continue to establish this institution as a safe, enabling, and empowering space for the broad human rights community […] not just for the commission and its staff, but more importantly, for our partners,” Gascon said.
The space, originally a seldom-used corridor, is located beside the hall and their new multimedia room. The working area, which contains various information resources, will be open to rights advocates, students, and reporters covering the CHR beat.
Computers are also available for visitors to access the Human Rights Observatory — CHR’s “online platform and dashboard for key human rights thematic areas.”
According to Gascon, there is a certain symbolism in why they chose this part of the CHR office as the human rights collaboratory space — which he says is a combination of the words corridor, collaborate, laboratory, observatory, and oratory.
“You may not know it, but this space was the darkest, and the wettest, and the gloomiest part of the entire building. Because it is the singular corridor that meets two buildings, the old building of CHR, and the new spaces that we have been inaugurating over the last two years,” he told guests at the inauguration.
“We consciously decided to open this space and make it available to you, because we are believers in what is possible, even in the darkest and most difficult of times, we can still innovate, we can still create so that we might be able to transform,” Gascon added, apparently in reference to the dark era of the Marcos regime.
Aside from the mentioned changes, several offices in the CHR complex were also renovated, while a caucus room was added. Funding of the renovations was made through the European Union (EU) Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Project and aid from the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID).
EU Delegation head Thomas Weirsing, Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas Sánchez, and French Ambassador Nicolas Galey attended the event and praised CHR for the betterment of the rights situation in the Philippines.
Weirsing vowed to support the programs of CHR and strengthen the justice system.
They also called on Filipinos to remember the pains of martial law and to prevent such incidents from happening again, in order to truly move forward.
“The EU intends to support the Philippines, growth of the people’s access to justice and human rights, through cooperation together with our partners,” Weirsing said.
“We need a culture of remembrance, and continuing education to learn — in this context, I praise CHR and civil society organizations for their tireless efforts to spread the lessons of martial law to today’s young generation. It is important not to forget,” he said.
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