Press Release
June 9, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today sought to strengthen the capability of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in going after violators of human rights and correct its unflattering as a toothless tiger.

Pimentel said he will introduce a legislation that will make it mandatory for government fiscals or prosecutor to adopt the CHRs recommendations to prosecute perpetrators of human right abuses.

This scheme will prevent the slow action, and even whitewashing of cases of human rights violations that makes a mockery of the system of justice in the country, he said.

He said that while the five-man CHR, a constitutional body, is mandated to investigate human rights violations, it has no power to directly prosecute these cases before the courts.

This serious flaw, according to the senator, has severely constrained the CHRs performance of its constitutional duties, especially in terms of ensuring that justice is rendered to victims of human rights violators and appropriate punishment is meted out to the criminal perpetrators.

Pimentel said since cases of human rights violations are exhaustively investigated by the CHR, there is no need for government prosecutors to review the Commissions recommendations for the prosecution of culprits, much less to conduct a preliminary investigation on the cases.

We have a Commission that is mandated by the Constitution no less to protect the human rights of our people, and its findings will be reviewed by a Department of Justice prosecutor? I think that is not right, the minority leader said.

I was thinking that may be we can craft a law that the findings of the Commission on Human Rights should be treated with prima facie acceptance. In other words, there is no need for a prosecutor to review the CHRs findings.

Pimentel said that while the CHR has regional offices in 15 regions of the country, it does not have sufficient personnel in the provinces, cities and municipalities to receive complaints on human rights violations.

He said one way to address this problem is to deputize the provincial and city attorneys to receive the complaints in areas where the CHR has no physical presence. He said the complaints can then be forwarded to the CHR regional offices.

If in every city or province the Commission can have a tie-up with the city or provincial attorney, that is a good way of establishing its presence, at least to receive the complaints. The Commission cannot transfer its functions to these lawyers, but at least they can facilitate the reception of complaints and transmitting them to the regional directors office, Pimentel said.

He urged the CHR to work out some kind of a memorandum of agreement with the city and provincial governments for the purpose of deputizing the city or provincial attorneys to receive the complaints.

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