Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting HB 8269 that seeks to protect the rights of internally displaced persons

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting HB 8269 that seeks to protect the rights of internally displaced persons

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the passage on the third and final reading of the House Bill (HB) No. 8269 or “An Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Penalizing the Acts of Arbitrary Internal Displacement” at the House of Representatives. The bill capitalizes on a human rights-based approach for the promotion and protection of the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Commissioner Faydah Maniri Dumarpa, the focal commissioner for IDPs, noted that this development demonstrates the commitment of legislators to the plight and dignity of IDPs.

“Given that the State serves as the primary duty-bearer in the provision of services and humanitarian assistance to IDPs, we note the commitment of our legislators in ensuring that communities rendered vulnerable by disasters and armed conflict enjoy equal rights and freedoms under international and domestic laws,” Commissioner Dumarpa said.

She also explained the importance and urgency of the proposed measure.

“Having a national policy for the protection of IDPs will institutionalize and specify their rights and will allow them to readily claim entitlements from the government. It will also provide additional safeguards that will help address the heightened vulnerability to sexual harassment and trafficking of women and girl IDPs. As such, we also express our hope that it will soon be enacted into law. We therefore appeal to the Senate to support and prioritize this crucial legislative measure,” she added.

CHR wishes to acknowledge the authors of the bill namely, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Representatives Bienvenido Abante, Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, Jude Acidre, Zia Alonto Adiong, Jaye Lacson Noel, Yasser Alonto Balindong, Gus Tambunting, Rufus Rodriguez, Reynante Arrogancia, Edward Vera Perez Maceda, Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr., Edcel Lagman, Jose Manuel Alba, Arjo Atayde, Raymond Democrito Mendoza, and Ron Salo. [1]

In July 2021, the Commission published its Position Paper on the Proposed Bill on Internally Displaced Persons [2]. It is noteworthy that the points tackled in the document and the bill both echo the adoption of the language and foundations of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID). The Commission recognizes the crucial role of the Congress in ensuring that national and local responses aimed to address the concerns of IDPs adhere to international human rights standards. It is expected that in-depth consultations with government and non-government stakeholders have been taken into account to ensure that the bill will integrate views from various sectors of the society.

Disasters and armed conflicts have been a recurring theme in the Philippine context, which force thousands of Filipinos to leave their households in search of safer refuge. As such, the Commission expresses its hope that HB 8269 will provide better means for displaced Filipinos to receive humanitarian assistance and create avenues to ensure that this results in durable solutions such as providing permanent housing, income-generating opportunities, education, and better living conditions in general. This will guarantee that displaced communities are able to live a life with dignity and free from any discrimination.

The Commission also welcomes its designation in the proposed bill as the institutional focal point of IDPs and as the Chair to the inter-agency coordinating committee tasked to monitor compliance. In line with our Constitutional mandate and expert role in human rights protection, we look forward to making more meaningful contributions to the protection of the rights and dignity of IDP once the bill is enacted into law. ###

[1] Bill for human rights-based approach on protection of internally displaced persons gets House nod | 2 August 2023

[2] CHR Position Paper on the Proposed Bill on Internally Displaced Persons | 2 July 2021