CJ SOCIETY

OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES – CEBU CHAPTER
RE: HOR APPROVED PHP1,000.00 BUDGET FOR CHR 2018 BUDGET


OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES – CEBU CHAPTER RE: HOR APPROVED PHP1,000.00 BUDGET FOR CHR 2018 BUDGET
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Cebu City Chapter condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the recent vote of the House of Representatives to reduce the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to a contemptible sum of Php1,000.00.

Enshrined in our fundamental law is our State’s policy to “value the dignity of every human person” and “guarantee full respect for human rights.” To this end, the CHR was conceived. Lest it is misconstrued, wittingly or unwittingly, the CHR is not mandated to investigate crimes perpetrated by felons or criminal syndicates in the community. Rather, in light of the horrific past experience, the framers of our Constitution conceived the CHR to serve as a check on the State’s exercise of its police power. Simply put, the CHR is meant to be a watchdog to protect citizens from human rights abuses of the government and its agents.

What the Lower House did yesterday, September 12, 2017, was clearly a vindictive act of 119 of its members to cripple the CHR, whose investigations and reports they have publicly denounced as a threat in the success of the country’s “drug war.” De-funding the CHR will not only cripple its operation and render it powerless to help those that it is mandated to protect, but it also serves to further peddle the misconception that the CHR is useless for failing to investigate crimes committed by private groups and individuals.

Congress should remember its responsibility to “give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all people to human dignity.” Going after the CHR is anathema to the mandate. No government office or agency should be treated in this manner for doing its job. It sends a wrong message to victims of human rights abuses, further propagates a culture of impunity in our society, and paints the picture that we are governed not by the rule of law, but of men. It is a blatant affront to the Constitution and the very ideals and aspirations enshrined therein and sought to be achieved by it.

We strongly urge our brothers and sisters in the legal profession to do their part to educate the people on the role and function of the CHR as an institution, how important it is in a democracy like ours, and how we should ensure that Congress or anyone else should not intrude on its independence. We must not allow this to happen and succeed with our voice muted or subdued. Otherwise, we will have forsaken our oath and acquiesced to the erosion of the rule of law in our democracy.


-, September 13, 2017


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