News Release
13 September 2017

P1,000 budget for CHR: Paving the road to dictatorship -Hustisya “Paving the road to dictatorship.”

Thus said Hustisya, an organization of victims of human rights violations and their families, on the brazen actions of the Lower House to allocate a P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights.
“Hustisya is one among human rights advocates and different sectors in condemning this shameless act of Duterte’s Congress. By rendering the CHR irrelevant, the Duterte government is establishing a de facto tyrannical rule, with the people having no recourse to air their grievances before any agency,” said Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez.

On the other hand, Hernandez said, notwithstanding CHR’s many weaknesses and shortcomings in addressing human rights violations against the people, the destruction of what remains a system of check and balances is unacceptable to the people.
“At many times, we see the CHR as inutile by not acting on the numerous grave human rights violations that we lobby before them. However, what Duterte’s Congress did is the destruction of an institution that acts as a platform to air grievances on violations of people’s rights committed by state security forces,” Hernandez said.
 According to Hernandez, the CHR is formed so the people can avail of the domestic mechanism to monitor, document and address problems of human rights violations, abuses and any attempt to suppress the people’s fundamental rights.
“Giving a meager budget to the CHR while millions are allocated for intelligence funds and war on drugs shows the true objective and motive of this regime, that of tyrannical rule. While there is a rampage of human rights violations under the Duterte regime, there is martial law in Mindanao, there is a declared all out war against revolutionary forces, and there is war on drugs carried out by state forces, the CHR remains important,” said Hernandez.
 Relating to experience, Hernandez said that truly compassionate and progressive human rights workers and advocates in the CHR were helpful as a venue to air people’s grievances and assert basic rights that state forces are supposed to protect, but systematically violate.
 “When my daughter Benjaline was killed in 2002 in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, the CHR in the region conducted a fact-finding mission, and released the results of the investigation positively identifying elements of the AFP as perpetrators of the killing,” shared Hernandez.
 A consolidated case was subsequently filed by human rights lawyers and rights group Karapatan, before the DOJ, using the results of the said investigation.  The Benjaline Hernandez killing was also brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee which recommended that the Philippine government is accountable and responsible for the killing. 
Benjaline was deputy secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, a human rights worker herself, who was killed along with two others while conducting a fact finding mission in North Cotabato in 2002.
 “When mechanisms to air grievances on human rights abuses by state security forces are being dismantled and clamped down in rapid pace by the Duterte fascist government, where shall the people deliver their anger, in the streets!” exclaimed Hernandez.
 Hustisya called on the people to join the mass protest on September 21.
 “This is a return of a  tyranny, of dictatorial rule, where nobody can criticize the wrongdoings and anti-people policies of the government. We appeal to the people to resist this. We have overcome this in the past. We should not allow this to happen again under the Duterte regime,” said Hernandez. ###
 Reference: Evangeline Hernandez, Hustisya chairperson, 0950-5415944
Hustisya National Office
2/F #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts. 
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines

Telephone: (02) 990-6595