Why we need the CHR


Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

Pres­i­dent Duterte and Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez rant and rave against the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights, and then go ad hominem and vent their ire on its chair, Chito Gas­con. What do they say? It goes some­thing like this, but the Reader is in­vited to go to YouTube and hear their rants and raves for her­self: The CHR is show­ing its yel­low color, it pro­tects/de­fends only the crim­i­nals’ hu­man rights and can’t care less about the crim­i­nals’ vic­tims. And it is se­lec­tive. Why hasn’t it gone af­ter the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, which ob­vi­ously have vi­o­lated so many hu­man rights? Why con­cen­trate on the po­lice and mil­i­tary?

And Al­varez adds his own spice: Don’t the CHR mem­bers get their salaries from the gov­ern­ment? So why are they al­ways crit­i­ciz­ing it? And then Rep. Ro­dante Mar­co­leta, not to be left out, chimes in: The CHR was in­validly cre­ated, any­way.

Ex­plain­ing their logic is be­yond me. But Sr. He­len Gra­ham (Mary­knoll) for­warded me a let­ter which is to me the best ex­pla­na­tion of the is­sues, and an­swers most of the raised ques­tions. The ex­change is between two Sil­li­man Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sors that took place less than a month ago.

Prof. Nino Piñero posted in his Face­book ac­count: “Those who were part of the vigil rally this evening and to the one who leads it, I’m curs­ing you all that what hap­pened to my daugh­ter and to her un­born child will hap­pen to your fam­ily! “Sana may mem­ber sa fam­ily ninyo ma­p­atay ng drug ad­dict…. “Where [are] the hu­man rights? “Ang hu­man rights ninyo ay para sa mga drug ad­dicts, kami mga bik­tima walang hu­man rights.

“THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WILL RING THEIR BELLS EV­ERY AF­TER­NOON AC­CORD­ING TO THE CAR­DI­NAL FROM MANILA, WHICH IS ALSO SUP­PORTED BY THE USE­LESS LP IN­DI­VID­U­ALS TO SHOW THEIR SUP­PORT [FOR] ALL DRUG PER­SON­AL­I­TIES KILLED BY THE PNP. “SHAME ON YOU SUP­PORT­ERS OF IL­LE­GAL DRUGS!!!” Here is the re­ply, much ab­bre­vi­ated, due to space con­straints: “Dear Mr. Piñero, “My name is Amelia Lour­des Men­doza, the one who or­ga­nized the vigil last night out­side of the Col­lege of Law. I teach Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure at the law school.

“First, I want to re­it­er­ate what I said to you last night. That I am ter­ri­bly sorry for what hap­pened to your daugh­ter and her friend….

“… Did I or­ga­nize a vigil for them like I did last night? No, I did not. Not be­cause your daugh­ter’s and her friend’s lives don’t mat­ter, but be­cause we have the le­gal sys­tem in place to pros­e­cute the per­pe­tra­tors. I will be the first to ac­knowl­edge though that this sys­tem is flawed in so many ways but this is the sys­tem we have de­vised for our­selves to ad­dress crim­i­nal­ity. …

“Sec­ond, ….I would be turn­ing my back on my du­ties as a Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure in­struc­tor if I were merely to dis­cuss within the con­fines of the class­room the rules and pro­ce­dure with­out ad­dress­ing the alarm­ing rise of EJKs and the cul­ture of im­punity it leaves in its trail, not to men­tion 13,000 lives lost….

“…. When the State, with its vast pow­ers and re­sources avail­able to it­self, be­comes the per­pe­tra­tor and takes short­cuts of duly es­tab­lished pro­ce­dure and pro­cesses, how else must we, or­di­nary cit­i­zens, fight back? When the pro­tec­tor be­comes the per­pe­tra­tor, whom do we turn to now?

“And this is why I or­ga­nized the vigil last night Mr. Pinero. … I do not sup­port drug ad­dicts (or any­one else for that mat­ter) who com­mit crimes. The full force of the law must be ap­plied to them when they do. They must be pros­e­cuted, con­victed, and jailed. But when the State kills sus­pects, with­out go­ing through the process of pros­e­cu­tion, con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing, then I will stand up … against EJKs as a hu­man be­ing whose hu­man­ity is threat­ened by such ac­tions of the State, and as an of­fi­cer of the court who took an oath to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws… “Peace…” Where does the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights come into the pic­ture? The 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion wisely man­dated an in­de­pen­dent body to which we can turn when it is the state agents them­selves who vi­o­late hu­man rights. We need the CHR, warts and all. The gov­ern­ment is al­ready go­ing af­ter the ter­ror­ist groups with full public sup­port. And al­ready help­ing their vic­tims. There is no need for the CHR to in­ves­ti­gate them or help their vic­tims.

Al­varez et al. seem un­able to see the dif­fer­ence.

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