LET US NOT THROW THE HUMAN RIGHTS BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER
IT is easy to be carried away by the passionate intensity of partisanship to call for the abolition of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) just because of the perception that it has not done its job, or that it has become a partisan tool of the political opposition.
In fact, the House of Representatives has already made a move against CHR when it appropriated a measly P1,000 for its 2018 budget.
But as the old adage says, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bath water.
One has to realize that the CHR is a creation of the 1987 Constitution. Article XIII, Section 17, Number 1 of the Constitution stipulates that “there is hereby created an independent office called the Commission on Human Rights.” Using her residual legislative powers, President Corazon Aquino in 1987issued Executive Order 163 which created the CHR. Section 3 of the EO reiterated Article XIII, Section 18 of the Constitution which enumerated the functions of the CHR. First on the enumeration which is to “investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights.”
Thus, it is clear from this that the CHR’s mandate is to address all forms of human rights violations, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a state actor or a non-state or private entity.
The allegation that the CHR has been remiss in fulfilling this duty stems from the perception that it has focused much of its attention on human rights violations committed by state actors. And here, there is even an indication that the CHR may have a partisan agenda, owing to the fact that its current chairman, Chito Gascon, who I would like to disclose is a friend, is a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party. It did not help that much of the publicized activities of CHR were focused on alleged drugrelated state-sponsored executions, with Chito making statements in lo-