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Primer on draft Con-Com charter

Q:  What happened to the phrase “human rights” in Article II?

A:  A LOT OF FUSS is made about the supposed silence of the Con-Com’s draft on human rights. This is fault-finding.

Art. II, Section 11: The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. 

This was the 1987 Constitution.  Here is what the draft says:

“The Federal Republic values the dignity of every person and guarantees full respect for the person and the right of all citizens to participate in all government processes.”

In logic when A includes B and C, then there is no need to mention B separately.  Respecting the person necessarily includes respecting his human rights.  In short, the ConCom opted for the more comprehensive concept “respect for the person”.

Why?  In Philippine jurisprudence, “human rights” designates  those rights that a person can claim against the State.  So, when a gangster kills a hapless victim, that is the ordinary crime of murder or homicide (although no murder or homicide is ever “ordinary.” When a policeman causes the extrajudicial execution of a detainee that is a human rights violation.  To cover the rights of all persons against all potential violators, the Con-Com opted for the broader concept “respect for the person”.

What should be paid attention to is Article III, Section 1 of the draft that makes the rights under the Bill of Rights demandable both against the State and non-State actors, and IMPORTANTLY makes international human rights standards the measure of their enforcement.

Topics: 1987 Constitution , Con-Com , Government , Bill of Rights
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