Press Release
July 12, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) is proposing the establishment of Human Rights Resource Centers (HRRCs) throughout the country to integrate the promotion and protection of human rights in the implementation of the criminal justice system.

These centers shall be the repository of all human rights concerns at the provincial level, and shall, among others, monitor compliance with international treaty obligations and national legislation on human rights for the purpose of ensuring the proper enforcement of laws and observance of international obligations at the local level.

The creation of the HRRCs is embodied in Senate Bill 1160 which Pimentel filed amid the outrage by the Filipino people and the international community over the spate of extra-judicial killings of political activists and journalists that badly reflects on the government insofar as its duty of safeguarding human rights is concerned.

"The protection of human rights promotes the dignity of every individual. It is one of the challenges that we have to face as a nation," Pimentel said.

"Only through the fulfillment of this goal can we truly claim that indeed, democracy is alive in this country and if our people are to enjoy the freedoms and rights enshrined in the Constitution."

Under SB 1160, the HRRCs shall be attached to the Office of the Governor in every province but the planning, policy-making and implementation shall be done with transparency and accountability.

However, the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Office of Provincial Prosecutor, the Office of the Provincial Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Office of the Provincial Director of the Philippine National Police shall collaborate and coordinate in ensuring the effective operation of the HR Resource Centers including, but not limited to, the mobilization of resources and the provisions of technical support.

At the operational level, the Human Rights Resource Centers shall be headed by a volunteer lawyer from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines with support staff composed of volunteer students of law schools who are rendering paralegal services as part of their curriculum requirements, people's organizations and non-government organizations with credibility in the locality and independent of the local government.

As the repository of all human rights concerns at the provincial level, the HRRCs shall set up a library of international covenants and treaties to which the Philippines is a signatory, has acceded to and subsequently ratified.

In justifying the establishment of the Centers, Pimentel stressed that the protection of human rights is essential to any country that calls itself democratic.

"Governments are bound by international and domestic statutes to protect those rights. Internationally, the concept of human rights is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights documents and treaties that have following in its wake," he said.

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