Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

WHEN Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Vi­tal­iano Aguirre cried foul over the use by Sen. Risa Hon­tiveros of photos of him dur­ing a Se­nate hear­ing tex­ting a sug­ges­tion to a mem­ber of the Vol­un­teers Against Crime and Cor­rup­tion (VACC) to speed up the fil­ing of cases against her, he claimed that his right to pri­vacy was vi­o­lated. “Text mes­sages are pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” he said. “Any unau­tho­rized in­tru­sion into such ex­changes is il­le­gal and be­trays the Con­stit ut i on.”

Let us not dwell on the de­bate on whether or not Hon­tiveros’s act vi­o­lated Aquirre’s right to pri­vacy. But the jus­tice sec­re­tary is cor­rect about that right be­ing in the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion and sev­eral other Philip­pine con­sti­tu­tions be­fore it. What he failed to rec­og­nize, how­ever, is that the right to pri­vacy is in turn a fun­da­men­tal hu­man right in­cluded in the United Na­tions Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights and other in­ter­na­tional covenants and treaties.

This just shows that while the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion has been try­ing to mud­dle peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of hu­man rights and by ex­ten­sion the func­tion of the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) ob­vi­ously to weaken op­po­si­tion to some of the ques­tion­able meth­ods used in its war against il­le­gal drugs, its of­fi­cials have no qualms em­brac­ing these rights when con­ve­nient.

Hu­man rights are not only about “life, lib­erty and per­sonal se­cu­rity”or due process. These cover a broad spec­trum that even in­cludes food and hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, ad­e­quate stan­dard of liv­ing— and many oth­ers that we tend to over­look be­cause these have al­ready be­come an in­te­gral part of mod­ern so­ci­ety’s func­tion­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, be­cause we have not been en­light­ened on the mat­ter, gov­ern­ment has suc­ceeded in mak­ing the con­cept of hu­man rights look bad to a num­ber of Filipinos.

The peo­ple’s lack of en­light­en­ment on the hu­man rights is­sue is what has made the ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­quire the dar­ing to ap­pro­pri­ate a P1,000 bud­get for the CHR for 2018. Thank­fully, how­ever, the same widely crit­i­cized act seems to have jump-started ef­forts to ed­u­cate Filipinos on the con­cept of hu­man rights and the func­tion of the CHR. Hope­fully, that could lead to peo­ple’s en­light­en­ment, which is nec­es­sary to ad­vance hu­man rights and foster a re­spect of CHR’s man­date and func­tion.

— Sun­nex

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