CHR on signing of anti-terror bill: ‘We cannot compromise our human rights’
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday reminded the government that human rights should never be compromised despite the signing of the controversial anti-terrorism bill by President Rodrigo Duterte.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia that they will hold on to the government’s commitment that human rights will always be upheld and that the provisions will not be abused once the bill passes into law.
“CHR will hold on to the government’s commitment, alongside the sponsors and advocates of this law, that human rights will be upheld at all cost,” said de Guia in a statement.
“This includes commitment to protect free speech; the right to dissent and petition redress for grievances; due process and presumption of innocence; and respect for human dignity and the value of human life among others.”
Critics of the anti-terror bill fear that the state can loosely define terrorism and arrests can be made even without a court warrant and those who are arrested can be detained for a maximum of 24 days without compensation.
The anti-terror bill amended the Human Security Act of 2007. Under the Human Security Act of 2007, wrongfully detained suspects are compensated.
Under Section 25 of the bill, the government has the power to designate individuals or organizations as “terrorists” without a proper hearing and Section 4(a) vaguely defines terrorism as committed by a person who “engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life.”
De Guia said the CHR has always been against terrorism but the rights of ordinary citizens should never be given up when fighting for a safer nation.
“Our position has been clear: CHR deplores how violence by terrorists have disregarded individual and collective rights through the destruction of properties and loss of lives,” said de Guia. “We are against terrorism. But in the pursuit of a safer nation, we cannot compromise our human rights.
“Ensuring that we live in peace is a human right. Let’s not frame human rights as if they are mere hindrances. They are the standards by which we demand actions from the government for a better, dignified life. CHR will continue to be vigilant against abuses and will remain firm in standing up for human rights.”
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