Stop corruption, human rights violations inside CHRP
Calling all human rights stakeholders to come together to stop corruption and human rights violations in the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP).
Let’s start by participating in the process for the selection of the next batch of five members of the CHRP, by nominating qualified persons. All the present commissioners will end their terms of office come May 4, 2015. The nominations are meant to broaden the pool of nominees the president can choose from. In no way is it meant to diminish the president’s prerogative to choose the next commissioners of this constitutional body.
The CHRP is mandated, among other tasks, to monitor and ensure compliance by government with its human rights obligations. Each commissioner should be chosen based on the criteria of integrity and independence, courage, broad and deep grasp of human rights concepts and principles. It would also be best for a nominee to such a critical position to have an experience of direct, continuous involvement in the field of human rights for at least 10 years.
Corrupt practices, abuse of authority and human rights violations have no place in the commission.
In August 2014, the Ombudsman issued an unprecedented order for the dismissal of Commissioner Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing after “finding probable cause for Direct Bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code” and for violations of some sections of Republic Act No. 3019 and RA 6713. This would be on record the first case of corruption against a CHRP commissioner.
On Dec. 15, 2014, the Commission en banc, in its resolution on Nemesio G. Mendoza vs Commissioner Norberto dela Cruz (CHR-NCR case 2013-0291), found “probable cause, based on substantial evidence, for human rights violations” against respondent Norberto dela Cruz.
A significant number of human rights defenders are aware of a lot of other violations, in various forms—e.g., unprofessionalism, incompetence, favoritism—being committed by CHRP officials and left unremedied, rendering a huge amount of CHRP salaries and expenses a total waste of people’s money.
As all have stakes in the government’s mandate to protect human rights, we ask all:
- To encourage qualified nominees to submit their applications to the Office of the President along with their curriculum vitae and their explicit consent to serve, if chosen.
- To lobby for the insertion of a provision in the pending bill, the New Charter of the Commission on Human Rights, on a selection committee to aid the president in the appointment of new CHRP commissioners.
- To ensure that a provision exacting accountability on the part of the CHRP’s commissioners and officers is included in the new CHRP charter.
We hope that the next commissioners would transform the CHRP into the prime human rights institution not only in the country but also in the Asean and international community.
Justice and dignity for all!
—MAX M. DE MESA, chair, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, [email protected]
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