Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, clarifying CHR’s mandate on upholding the human rights of all

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, clarifying CHR’s mandate on upholding the human rights of all

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) would like to thank Congressman Rodante Marcoleta for the opportunity to clarify the long-standing misconception on the mandate of CHR.

We have always stood for the respect and protection of the human rights and dignity of all. As such, we equally believe in making sure that all perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations should be made accountable for their offenses.

CHR has repeatedly stressed, however, that the respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights remains to be a primary obligation of the government, as embodied through the different government agencies, i.e. upholding our right to health as a mandate of the Department of Health; right to education as a mandate of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education; our right to social security as a mandate of Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System; and the protection of our right to life, liberty, and property as a mandate of the security, law enforcement, and justice sector institutions.

CHR’s mandate is to be a watchdog, monitor, advocate, and educator of the government with respect to human rights rights. And just as the government has the primary obligation for our human rights, CHR primarily investigates State agents and representatives should they incur lapses and violations in their responsibilities.

However, there are cases when CHR investigates violations committed by private individuals, particularly if the victims are part of those who we regard as vulnerable sectors, such as women, children, and the elderly. In this sense, we continue to regard our work in aid of the government’s mandate to protect the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalised, as well as in calling out non-State actors for the violations they too may have committed.

Even when CHR investigates, it is still upon the government to ensure that these incidences of human rights abuses and violations are pursued in the interest of administering justice for and on behalf of the victims from wrongful acts perpetrated by non-State actors.

It is in this view that we agree with Congressman Marcoleta—all human rights violations should be investigated. But with respect to the wisdom of the Constitution, CHR is not a law enforcement agency. This is also the marginal note contained in the said infographic. As we have equally committed, we shall also continue to work with government towards building a better working relationship in defense of the rights of everyone.

CHR continues to serve as the country’s independent national human rights institution by being the conscience of the government—to condemn when necessary, but also to commend when merited as seen in several press statements, as well as through our ‘Obligasyon at Karapatan’ campaign, which seeks to recognise government efforts that embody human rights standards and principles.

We emphasize that past investigations and statements have always strived for balance—condemning human rights violations of both government and non-government actors—but has always called for the government’s swift and urgent action in holding perpetrators to account. Albeit unpopular, we shall continue to fulfill this Constitutional mandate in the interest of protecting and promoting the human rights and dignity of all.