Press Release
August 28, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today batted for the strengthening of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), an independent body created by the Constitution, by granting it the power to prosecute cases of violations of human rights that it has investigated.

Pimentel observed that while the CHR is faithfully discharging its mandated task to investigate cases of political killings, abductions, torture and other forms of human right violations, these cases are hardly moving in the courts and are largely unresolved.

He said this problem can be effectively remedied if the CHR will be equipped with the power to prosecute the human rights cases.

At present, all cases of human right violations are referred to the Department of Justice and government prosecutors after these are investigated by the CHR.

If Congress enacts a law empowering the CHR to prosecute the cases of human right violations on the basis of the outcome of its investigation, then there is no need for the Commission to bring them to the government prosecutors or fiscals. And the Commission can go straight to the courts and handle the prosecution of these cases itself, he said.

Pimentel said the proposal conforms with the Constitution which provides that the powers and functions of the CHR can be expanded through a law enacted by Congress.

Unless the CHR is clothed with prosecutory powers, the Commission will remain ineffectual in carrying out its task of protecting and upholding the human rights of the Filipino people, he said.

Meanwhile, Pimentel dared the CHR to question before the courts the creation of the six-man Commission, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, tasked to look into the extra-judicial killings of leftist activists and journalists if it thinks that the new fact-finding body is unnecessary and will merely duplicate the functions of the CHR.

The senator from Mindanao was reacting to the complaint of CHR Commissioner-officer in charge Quintin Badelles-Cueto III that the investigation of the slayings of leftist militants and journalists is within the scope of the CHRs powers and should be undertaken by this independent constitutional body. Cueto, however, said the CHR lacks the funds for extending protection to witnesses.

If the CHR believes that its functions are being usurped by the Melo Commission, by all means, it should bring the necessary suit to question the Commissions creation, Pimentel said.

He, however, stressed that the Melo Commission cannot stop the extra-judicial killings. Only Gloria can do it. But she is not about to do so because she will displease the generals who hold her by the neck. Since she knows that it is the generals who prop up her stay in Malacañang , it stands to reason that she would not do anything to displease them.

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