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    Saturday, September 16, 2017

    Journalist points out CHR’s failure and inefficiency

    The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) recently had become the focus of speculations and intrigues after the House of Representatives unanimously voted to grant the chR othether with two other agencies, a P1,000 budget appropriation for 2018.

    For this, several critics, journalists and socio-political analysts commented on the issue trying to elucidate or establish the grounds as to shy the Congress approved such minimal budget for a national government institution like the CHR.

    Sass Rogando Sasot, a distinguished writer and a social media activist, recently published in Manila Times an article that contains her two-cents on the P1k budget issue concerning the CHR and the Congress. In her post, Sasot described her (and the public’s0 perception on the CHR. That is, in great accordance the biased and pro-drug trafficking impression the Commission on Human Rights had established for itself.

    “THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has been criticized for seeming to undermine the government’s efforts against the narco-trade. CHR’s critics feel the palpable silence of the CHR whenever shabu addicts and drug syndicates commit all kinds of violence, endangering the right to life of a lot of people, the security of a community, and the integrity of a republic. Lampooned as the Commission on Criminal Rights, the CHR responded that they are only mandated to tackle human rights abuses committed by State actors.” Sasot initially stated.

    Refuting the claims expressed by the CHR, Sasot took into account several past instances proving the blatant involvement of the CHR in issues which do not directly involve public and government officials.

    “In 2006, the CHR investigated and held a hearing on Aruba Bar and Restaurant’s dress code policy which prohibits cross-dressers from entering their establishment. 

    In December 2015, it agreed to launch an inquiry to find out if oil, gas, and coal companies, such as Shell and Exxon, had violated the human rights of Filipinos because of their role in the devastating effects of climate change. Are these respondents State actors?” Sasot speculatively questioned.

    Explaining the one of the mandate and obligations of the CHR, Sasot cited a particular provision in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which she described as “the only human rights convention that specifically mentions the right against the illegal drug trade.” Article 33 of the CRC mandates that: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.” 

    “The CHR has the duty to ensure that government actors are complying with the Article 33 provision of the CRC. Yet we never hear CHR speak at all, nor launch an investigation, whenever that provision is being violated. For example, in February 2017, when the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas, raised the alarm about children being employed as drug runners (Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 10, 2017), a clear violation of Article 33 of the CRC. 

    Where was CHR?” Sasot claimed rhetorically.

    The journalist furthered her article by posing several preventive measures that the CHR could have accomplished or enforced. 

    “The CHR could launch an inquiry into the culpability of government officials in creating an environment where children are exposed to the dangers, violence, and exploitation brought by drug syndicates. CHR could start investigating the cities where there are high drug affectation rate, like Caloocan, where there is a 100 percent drug affectation rate (GMA News, October 22, 2015). That means: CHR shouldn’t only investigate police abuse against Kian delos Santos but Caloocan’s compliance with Article 33 of CRC.
    This is something the CHR could contribute to our country’s “war on narco-politics” that is within their mandate. Why aren’t they doing it?” Sasot speculated.

    Elaborating on the root of the problem, Sasot discussed a basic rationale on the drug induced meance currently faced by our country. She pointed out that the present demographics on the drug-related killings do not equate to the total casualties and damages made by the drug syndicates and drug-crazed criminals.

    “The millions of drug addicts and pushers who surrendered so far? That’s the current count of the casualties of the power wielded by drug syndicates and their government protectors. 

    And that is on top of the number of families destroyed, communities terrorized, victims of rape, murder, robbery, and other heinous crimes committed by people under the influence of shabu sold by drug syndicates who in turn fatten the pockets of their government protectors.” Sasot presumptively claimed.

    “If CHR will not act to investigate grave human rights abuses fostered by the operations of powerful drug cartels and their government enablers, and how this violate Article 33 of CRC, then it has neglected its duty and just let narco-politics continue to create an environment inimical to human dignity.” She ended implicitly acknowledging the flaws of the once respected Commission on Human Rights.

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