CHR on Du30 Sona: ‘We have unanimity’ on rights issues

By: Jaymee T. Gamil

Philippine Daily Inquirer –

26 July 2016

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has taken an optimistic view of
President Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona), choosing
to focus on points for agreement.

Sought for comment after Duterte’s Sona, CHR chair Jose Luis “Chito”
Gascon remained upbeat.

“At the first instance, I welcome the clear references to the importance
and centrality to human rights, due process, and rule of law that
President Duterte mentioned in first his Sona, as well as his reference
to not tolerating any abuse of authority from erring law enforcement,”
Gascon said.

Duterte had warned police officers and other officials that “there will
be hell to pay” for abuse of authority.

“We have unanimity that rights are about affirming dignity. I assure the
government that complying with human rights obligations are about
uplifting all humanity and preventing abuses by holding perpetrators to
account, and I am encouraged by the commitment expressed by the
President that human rights would be upheld and fulfilled,” Gascon said.

“Complying with them will never provide a shield to wrongdoing or
destroy the nation, rather they promote fairness, justice, and
development. The CHR is ready to engage government to achieve this,”
Gascon added.

During the Sona, Duterte had stressed: “Human rights must work to uplift
human dignity, but human rights cannot be used as a shield or as an
excuse to destroy the country.”

The statement seems an oblique reference to Duterte’s hardline position
that criminals, particularly narcotics criminals, are fair-game for
killings or extrajudicial methods. Indeed, later on in his speech,
Duterte had ad libbed: “Kung ayaw mo mamatay, huwag ka mag-drugs. Wag ka
umasa sa human rights or sa mga pari, at di nyan mapipigilan ang
pagpatay sayo.”

But Duterte had also assured, during his Sona: “My administration shall
be sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote, protect, fulfill the
rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the
vulnerable, and social justice shall be pursued, even as the rule of law
shall prevail at all times.”

Duterte is famously at odds with the CHR, tracing back to his time as
Davao mayor when vigilante killings of criminals had also been rampant
in the city. TVJ