Why we need the CHR
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.