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CHR optimistic on new human rights ‘super body’

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) yesterday expressed optimism that the “super body” formed by President Marcos will further enhance human rights protection in the country.

Under Administrative Order 22, a Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination is tasked to sustain initiatives and accomplishments under the United Nations for the Joint Program on human rights (UNJP) in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice and policymaking.

The CHR said it remained optimistic that the initiative “is a step in the right direction and will yield concrete and meaningful results while prioritizing a whole society approach – from consultation to implementation.”

It also recognized concerns raised by various sectors about the new body, adding that it will remain fully independent and will continue with its role as intermediary between the government and civil society.

The CHR said it is open to participating in the coordinating body “to ensure apparent and equal representation among relevant stakeholders.”

“An integrated government approach is essential for effectively addressing human rights concerns, complemented by strong partnerships with CSOs (civil society organizations) and other relevant stakeholders,” said CHR Chairman Richard Palpal-latoc.

“Through this coordinating body, we aim to see increased prosecution of cases related to the war on drugs and enforced disappearances, as well as the adoption of a comprehensive human rights-based approach in various government responses, particularly in counter-terrorism efforts, addressing red-tagging and safeguarding freedom of expression,” he added.

CHR Commissioner Faydah Maniri Dumarpa said the new body can also lead to increased government support for the CHR’s initiatives.

“In line with the current administration’s thrust in promoting and safeguarding human rights principles in the country, we are hopeful that this will gain equal support for passing the CHR Charter bill,” she said.“This will further strengthen the Commission’s mandate, enabling us to provide essential legal aid services, establish mechanisms for strategic litigation to ensure access to justice for victims of human rights