Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed Senate Bill 2548 that seeks to protect the rights of refugees and stateless persons

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed Senate Bill 2548 that seeks to protect the rights of refugees and stateless persons

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its full support for the filing of Senate Bill (SB) No. 2548, or “An Act Protecting the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons, Establishing the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Board, and For Other Purposes,” as this can help strengthen the Philippines’ compliance to international standards relevant on the said matter.

Also known as the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Act, SB 2548 filed by Sen. Robinhood Padilla seeks to recognize, strengthen, and promote the rights of the said sector in the country. Such will establish a Protection Board that will be mainly responsible for their determination of status and eligibility to avail of protection as needed, alongside prescribing the procedure and criteria for one to be deemed as a refugee or stateless.

The Commission welcomes SB 2548 as this further capacitates the Philippines in its obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of refugees and stateless persons under the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention and the 1954 UN Convention, respectively. It is commendable that as a State Party to various international conventions and treaties, the Philippines continuously forwards policies that reaffirm our commitment to adopt the generally accepted principles of international law within the domestic sphere.

An important feature of the bill highlights the balance between State duty and the obligations of refugees and stateless persons. It must be noted that while SB 2548 envisions further strengthening of the country’s cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the bill also details the obligations that refugees and stateless persons hold in ensuring that they abide by the laws and regulations of the country as a non-waivable condition for their admission within the Philippine territory.

As the Philippines is part of the international community, the Commission positively views SB 2548 as a step closer to ensuring that refugees and stateless persons are guaranteed basic rights such as food, livelihood, education, and community-based care among others. Regardless of nationality, every individual deserves equal recognition of their dignity and rights, particularly those who are displaced and facing increased vulnerability. In a similar vein, we expect foreign countries to safeguard the rights of Filipino migrant workers living within their borders.

As an independent national human rights institution, we call upon the Philippine government, civil society, and human rights mechanisms to collaborate towards sustainable and effective policy-making and implementation of initiatives. ###