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After arrests of trade unionists, journalist on Human Rights Day

CHR to PNP: Address rights concerns, translate gov’t words to actual reforms

/ 04:37 PM December 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has asked the police force to address human rights concerns stemming from the recent arrests and killings of activists, stressing that the government’s commitment to human rights must transcend through actual reforms.

According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, it is concerning that on the International Human Rights Day last December 10 and on the end of the country’s National Human Rights Consciousness Week, six trade unionists and a journalist were arrested based on illegal possession of firearms and explosive raps.

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CHR also noted that relatives and friends of the arrested, as well as other groups, have noted irregularities regarding the implementation of the search warrant and the arrest — things that the Philippine National Police (PNP) should clarify, for their own benefit as well.

“Such arrests are cause for concern given that there were statements by families and concerned personalities alleging  irregularities and errors in the said operations, including the fact that arrests were made in the midst of red tagging of activists and human rights workers,” De Guia said on Saturday.

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“It would be then for the government’s benefit, particularly the PNP, to address these doubts and allegations of anomalous arrests, especially that several pronouncements were already made by this administration — here and abroad — on its commitment to respect and protect the human rights of all,” she added.

De Guia further explained that failure to explain the recent incidents like the arrest of the seven on Human Rights Day would make the government’s assertion hollow.

“These commitments need to be translated to actual reforms, including effectiveness of redress mechanisms in addressing similar allegations and different human rights violations,” she noted.

“For if these pledges will remain as words, then we would not only fail the human rights cause, but this would also render hollow the government’s primary assertions that it will abide by its obligation to uphold the rights of all,” she added.

On early Thursday morning, six trade unionists and a journalist, Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, were arrested in an operation against loose firearms conducted by the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).  While numerous firearms, ammunition, and even several grenades were seized, activist groups insisted that these were merely planted by the police.

READ: Bayan Muna condemns arrests on Human Rights Day

The arrest came days after President Rodrigo Duterte assured the international community that the government remains committed to prioritizing human rights, during the first ever Human Rights Summit.

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The Human Rights Summit was launched by the Department of Justice as part of the joint program with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which calls for greater cooperation between the international community and the Philippines in terms of human rights.

However, groups believed that the summit was a mere deodorizer for the alleged rights abuses going on.

The UNHRC decision came on the heels of calls for a greater scrutiny of President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, which have been criticized or allegedly disregarding the suspects’ rights.

Prior to the incident involving the seven, there were also other incidents which drew CHR’s attention — the arrest of peasant leader Amanda Echanis and the operation which resulted to the death of peace consultants Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, who were already sickly and old.

Echanis is the daughter of slain peace consultant and Anakbayan chair Randall Echanis, who was killed in his rented home in Novaliches, Quezon City last August.

Activists claimed that guns and ammunition were planted by cops, but PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas have denied such acts.

JE

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TAGS: activist arrest, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Department of Justice, DoJ, Drug war, Human Rights Summit 2020, International Human Rights Day, Jacqueline de Guia, Phil‎ippine National Police, Philippine news updates, PNP‎, President Rodrigo Duterte, upholding human rights
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