Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed a mandatory and continuing education and training on human rights among law enforcement and military personnel as well as public school teachers.
De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said she believes that there is a pressing need to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights among the country’s law enforcement agencies
She noted that there seems to be a popular view that the status of CHR may not be fully appreciated as the highest government machinery in the promotion and protection of human rights.
“CHR is a partner of security forces in human rights education, the legislative department in rights-based approach to law-making, the judiciary in evolving breaches of human security through enforced disappearance, and intermediary between government and civil society,” she said.
Under Senate Bill (SB) 1230 she filed, the CHR shall undertake a program of human rights promotion and advocacy through education and training to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights in coordination with different agencies of government.
SB 1230 shall likewise administer a Mandatory and Continuing Human Rights Education Program for the military, police, and other law enforcement agencies, as well as public school teachers, and shall draw up the components of the Program, accredit course and training providers, and issue certificates of completion to those who have successfully completed the Program. The Senator from Bicol urged Senate President Koko Pimentel to give priority to the passage into law of SB 1230, also known as the Commission on Human Rights Act, and be calendared in the Senate’s legislative agenda.
“CHR has proven its exemplary work as cornerstone of human rights in the country. This has been affirmed by the Supreme Court when it expressly commended the efforts of CHR in the investigation of the disappearance of Jonas Joseph Burgos, who was abducted 10 years ago,” she said.
“To empower the CHR as an institution through a Charter will therefore not only reinforce the recommendations and recognition of its contribution to safeguard fundamental rights and freedoms, but will serve the higher purpose of institutionalization of treaty commitments by the Philippine government,” she added.
Aside from Mandatory and Continuing Education, the other salient features of the bill are:
- Perform its Gender and Child Ombud roles to promote and safeguard the rights, interests, and welfare of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors, notably children and women;
- Designation of human rights attaches in select Philippine embassies and consulates to address cases of human rights violations committed against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs);
- Grant of power to issue legal protective measures, such as writs of injunction, restraining orders, and cease and desist orders, without waiting for the court to exercise jurisdiction over the matter;
- Institutionalization of witness protection program to provide safety to witnesses as well as human rights defenders under threat and safeguard the integrity of evidence;
- Establishment of witness auxiliary protection service to provide security, shelter, relocation and livelihood assistance to witnesses and their families;
- Fiscal autonomy to allow it to operate independently of the Executive Branch to ensure the unhampered application and protection of human rights principles under any and all possible circumstances;
- Establishment of Human Rights Protection Offices in 18 regions and provinces.