Her Excellency, Ambassador Kristie Kenney, Commissioners Cecilia Rachel “Coco” Quisumbing, Maria Victoria “ Mavic” Cardona, Norberto “Bert” Dela Cruz, Executive Director Jake Mejia, Director Benny Antazo, other Central Office Directors and Regional Directors, our staff in the Commission, our guests, friends and partners in human rights advocacy, good morning and welcome to the launch of the Investigation Module of the CHR Martus-based Executive Information System.
Since the creation of the Commission on Human Rights, the challenges we face in upholding the dignity of every Filipino have not ceased. The Commission itself is relatively young at just over two decades old, compared to the long struggle, a noble legacy of human rights activism from the ranks of our nation's renowned and unsung heroes. We are only a continuation of this legacy bestowed unto us by the many who had come before us.
As the old challenges to human rights protection persist, and new ones emerge, the human rights landscape has evolved over the years. With this continuing transformation all around us, we, too, from a long line of human rights defenders must be able to re-invent ourselves as well.
Continuity and re-invention come as the underlying themes today: 1) Continuity of the work from our predecessors, so that the lessons and inspiration derived from our human rights history may never be lost; and 2) Re-invention of our methods and goals, that we may be attuned to the changing times and remain a relevant and transformative force in human rights protection and promotion.
The launch of the Investigation Module is only part of an innovative vision initiated by the Former Chairperson, Dr. Purificacion C. Valera Quisumbing. We thank the Third Commission for such initiative. The idea of a database system that facilitates the entire process beginning from the filing of complaints, all the way down to resolution and monitoring, a system that expedites the transmittal of data reporting between the central and regional offices, thereby allowing the Commission to be more responsive in a very measurable way to the call of human rights protection and promotion. Human rights is, after all, so fundamental, that the call to action is almost always urgent, and the timeliness or swiftness of a response from human rights defenders from within and outside the Commission is of the essence.
One of the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extralegal Killings, embodied in the Alston Report, was for the Commission on Human Rights to provide monthly status reports. The need for an expeditious method of reporting and monitoring is met with the implementation of the Martus project, giving the Commission the enabling infrastructure to consolidate transmittals from the various regional offices. As is the case, many of the incidents of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances occur in the far-flung corners of the country. The launch of the investigative module is one of the many steps required to bring to the attention of the home office the progress of extralegal killing reporting in the countryside.
The full face of the Martus project is not yet upon us, but it is forthcoming. The vision and innovation of the Third Commission is carried on in the Fourth, a continuity of the lessons learned in the previous term of the Commission. The Martus Project is in good hands. From Former Chairperson Quisumbing's foresight, we now are on the verge of a transformation that should lend tremendous support in our endeavor to bring human rights protection and promotion to new relevance and importance in Filipino society today.
The launch of the Martus-based EIS, Investigation Module brings us much pride, and more importantly, it brings us much hope. It goes without saying that we are indebted to the funders of the Martus project, The Asia Foundation, our friends and supporters from the US Embassy and USAID, our allies in human rights defense. International collaboration has been a hallmark of our efforts to put an end to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. With the continued support of our partners from within and outside the Philippines, it remains our sincerest hope that justice may be had for the many Filipinos who had fallen victims to the rash of crimes of impunity.
This year marks a potentially momentous change in the global climate of State-sponsored impunity. In a century characterized by extra-ordinary State measures to combat terrorism and other insidious threats to national security, measures that are susceptible to violations of human rights, we are on the verge of drastic changes in the import of human rights policy. The declaration of the newly inaugurated president of the United States, President Barrack Obama, that Guantanamo Bay and all CIA-operated secret detention facilities shall be closed, on the premise that State security cannot come at the cost of compromising the values upon which every democratic society is founded, ushers in an end to State-sponsored torture, deprivation of due process and arbitrary detention. By the example set by President Obama, there must bring a reaffirmation everywhere of the restraint on government power and the primacy of human rights, no matter the form of danger which civilized nations face.
This new development must reverberate in the halls of our own government, in the military and in the judiciary especially. We, too, cannot surrender the same values that characterize our own democracy for the purpose of thwarting any threat against our internal security. These developments must give us renewed hope, that the cause that we fight for is the cause of all upstanding and peace-loving nations. It must be an affirmation of the shared values between all our partners in the international community, and an affirmation of our vital collaboration with our foreign partners in our quest to uphold human rights.
There is much hope that comes along with the ever-advancing campaign for human rights protection. There is much hope that we can put an end to detentions in military installations that never result in criminal prosecutions. There is much hope that we may yet instill in our own state security forces the restraint and discernment required of defenders of the people. There is much hope that our partnerships and our collective resolve will succeed.
Thank you for gracing our event today. With that, I welcome all of you once again, our cherished partners in human rights.
Good day, and Mabuhay kayong lahat!