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Thursday, April 25, 2024

CHR defends appointment of new en banc chief, two commissioners

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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) defended the appointment of the new members of its commission in banc.

The CHR said it has taken note of the recent remark on the qualifications and background of the newly appointed members, which included the chairperson and two commissioners.

“We wish to assure that, while the President appointed its recent composition as mandated by the Philippine Constitution, the Commission en banc is committed to preserve and uphold the independence of the country’s national human rights institution (NHRI). The present members of the Commission en banc also satisfy the criteria of pluralism, one of the standards under the Paris Principles that NHRIs should meet in order to be effective and efficient in their mandate,” it cited.

The CHR said chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc joined the agency with his robust legal career practice and background.

He is a trial lawyer, once served as an assistant city prosecutor, and was previously deputy executive secretary for Legal Affairs under the Office of the President.

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The CHR said upon his appointment, he signified a strong desire to expand and fortify CHR’s work with respect to economic, social and cultural rights.

Commissioner Beda Epres, a lawyer, is backed with a strong investigation background and expertise in conducting independent probes for having been previously part of the Office of the Ombudsman, the CHR said.

He has long been a civil servant as part of OMB, with his last position being director IV of the General Investigation Bureau-A of its Field Investigation Office I, which makes the promotion of good governance as a pillar of social justice and human rights as one of his strongest values.

The CHR said commissioner Faydah Dumarpa, also a lawyer, offers her expansive experience in the legal, socio-political, and administrative and finance arenas.

She was director IV for the Administrative and Financial Group of the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service before being appointed to CHR.

“With her Southern and Muslim roots, alongside gender balance, Commissioner Dumarpa introduces an overall multidisciplinary perspective necessary for an NHRI to tackle evolving human rights challenges,” the CHR noted.

In the past months, CHR under its new leadership has similarly shown readiness to respond to the continuing and emerging human rights concerns in the country. Demand for accountability through investigations of human rights violations are continuing.

“Lobbying for laws that seeks to uphold human rights persists. Efforts to conduct human rights education and promotion proceed, even in search of new ways to teach and reach different publics. And engagements with relevant stakeholders, such as human rights groups, civil society organisations, media, and the diplomatic community, among others, remain as a critical part of CHR’s agenda so we may preserve previous partnerships and chart new ones — all in support of effectively and faithfully implementing our mandate,” it noted.

The present Commission en banc has also announced innovations and thrusts it seeks to explore in support of CHR’s four mandates.

With regard to the Protection and Prevention mandates, CHR previously announced its intent to create a mechanism for strategic litigation where the Commission, within its mandate, shall embark on the active handling of cases to strengthen the access to justice of human rights violations victims, as well as for the protection of human rights defenders. Grassroots and community-based human rights education activities are directed to be intensified in line with CHR’s Human Rights Promotion mandate.

With regard to its Policy mandate, CHR has actively lobbied for the passage of laws that protect and promote human rights of weak, vulnerable, and marginalised sectors, including our own CHR Charter, the law creating the country’s National Preventive Mechanism, and the CHR Human Rights Institute.

“Details of our work are regularly shared publicly through our releases and social media channels,” CHR said.

“CHR respects the vigilance shown by some members of the human rights community regarding the recent appointments in CHR’s leadership. Under a democracy, we expect nothing less and take this as a challenge,” it added.

To note, it has only been almost four months since the first appointments of the new Commission en banc members were made yet work continues and new directions are already being set.

“We seek the chance to demonstrate our dedication to the critical role of CHR in these times. Our commitment to human rights cause shall be our steady compass as we fulfill our term as the sixth Commission en banc. CHR remains ready, willing, and able to stand up for the rights of all. And we extend our hand of partnership to all those in pursuit of improving the human rights situation in the country,” CHR said.

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