Press Statement on the Immediate Passage of
Legislative Measures on Human Rights
Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
The Commission on Human Rights is euphoric over the passage, on third reading, by the House of Representatives of important human rights measures, namely: Anti-Torture, Anti-Enforced Disappearance and Internal Displacement of Persons.
This marks a milestone in Philippine legislative history considering that these human rights measures have languished in the halls of the Legislature for the longest time with the Anti-Torture Bill staying the longest having been filed since the Eighth Congress (1987-1992). The Commission highly acclaims the House of Representatives through the able leadership of Congressman Lorenzo Tañada III and Congressman Matias Defensor, Jr., Chairmen of the House Committee on Human Rights and the House Committee on Justice, respectively, for showing their dedication and commitment to address the pressing issues of human rights in the country.
It bears to stress that the Philippines, whenever it ratifies or accedes to international human rights treaties, obligates itself to translate the same into national legislation. The Commission on Human Rights has called on Congress to enact measures as prescribed in its Human Rights Legislative Agenda to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in the Philippines. The failure to legislate these landmark measures will be taken as a sign that pressing human rights issues, such as the prevalence of torture, extra judicial killings and the negative impact of internal displacement, are not being fully addressed.
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), in particular, entered into force for the Philippines on June 1987. It has been 22 years that the State has continuously failed to implement its obligation to enact a law criminalizing torture in accordance with the standards and principles set forth in the human rights instrument.
This April, the Philippine Government’s report on the implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment will be considered by the Committee Against Torture. The Commission on Human Rights will be present in the deliberations to continue its call to government to make good its commitment as a State Party to the Convention.
In this wise, we call on the Senate to demonstrate the same level of commitment as their counterparts in the House of Representatives for the immediate passage of these landmark measures and compel the Executive to perform its mandate by signing these measures into law.
The Commission has posed the urgency of human rights measures to Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in various issuances to include the CHR Statement on the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines in its membership to the Human Rights Council. The Commission on Human Rights poses the challenge anew, and calls on the President to wield her influence and certify the urgent passage of these important legislative measures on human rights.
It is high time that the Philippines, through relevant laws on human rights, demonstrates its sincerity and seriousness in responding to the issues of impunity and human rights violations haunting the country today.
Issued this 12th day of March, 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines.
For the Commission:
ATTY. LEILA M. DE LIMA