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President Marcos forms human rights ‘super body’

MANILA, Philippines — A “super body” has been formed by President Marcos to further enhance human rights protection in the country, Malacañang announced on Sunday.

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 three-year UNJP was developed to implement Human Rights Council resolution 45/33, adopted on Oct. 7, 2020, which outlined specific areas for capacity-building and technical cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. It will expire on July 31.

“It is imperative to sustain and enhance the accomplishments under the UNJP, which is set to expire on July 31, 2024, through institutionalization of a robust multi-stakeholder process for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines,” the President said.

Administrative Order 22 was signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on May 8. It will take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette, or a newspaper of general circulation.

The special committee will be chaired by the executive secretary and co-chaired by the justice secretary, with the secretaries of foreign affairs and the interior and local government serving as members.

In 1988, the Philippines established the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) to comply with its obligations as a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The PHRC was also tasked to formulate a National Human Rights Action Plan.

Under Marcos’ AO 22, the PHRC Secretariat will serve as the secretariat of the special committee.

Duties and functions of the special committee include strengthening existing mechanisms in the areas of “investigation and accountability; data-gathering on alleged human rights violations by law enforcement agencies; expanding civic space and engagement with private sector; national mechanisms for implementation, reporting,