Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the filing of the bill that seeks to strengthen the CHR

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the filing of the bill that seeks to strengthen the CHR

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its utmost gratitude on the filing of the Senate Bill No. 2440, also known as the CHR Charter, which seeks to further empower and strengthen CHR’s role as the country’s independent national human rights institution (NHRI).

Authored by Senator Robinhood Padilla, the proposed bill aims to broaden the CHR mandate by expressly including investigations of violations, not just civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights. The proposed CHR Charter will necessarily lay-out an expanded structural, operational, and functional independence. This is essential in enabling it to fully comply with the requirements of the Paris Principles, a document which defines the standards relating to status of NHRIs.

SB 2440 will also guarantee full fiscal autonomy, which is foundational in ensuring CHR functional and operational independence. In particular, it will help ensure prompt and unrestricted discharge of its functions, unhampered by limitations in budget and resources.

The proposed Charter also seeks to better outline the selection process of the Commission en banc to ensure pluralism in its membership. It also aims to directly table CHR’s reports to the Office of the President and the Congress for the speedy review and consideration of its recommendations on how to improve the State’s obligation in upholding human rights. The proposed Charter further capacitates the Commission and forms part of the steps necessary to cultivate a human rights culture where the dignity and rights of the people are given primordial consideration.

In spite of the limitations and challenges faced by CHR in previous years, it has remained firm in the pursuance of its mandate. As a testament, it was able to maintain its Status ‘A’ accreditation as an NHRI amid unprecedented challenges. In prevailing through challenging times, the Commission displays its steadfast commitment in upholding human rights. Through an enabling Charter, the Commission can be expected to amplify what it has endeavored to achieve in its more than three decades of existence.

Previously regarded as a ‘toothless tiger,’ the passage of this bill will give teeth to the Commission through the full realization of its independence and the clear establishment of its role as a watchdog, monitor, advocate, and educator of the government. CHR is hopeful of the support of the Philippine Congress for human rights protection and promotion through the strengthening of the Commission. As such, we trust that the CHR Charter will be passed swiftly to enable it to achieve its vision of a just and humane Philippines society, especially for the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized sectors. ###