CHR: No conflict seen with new Marcos rights coordination committee

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) admitted it was not consulted on the creation of the Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination (SCHR) but said it sees no conflict yet with the decision of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

In a briefing with reporters in Quezon City on Monday, May 13, CHR chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc said the new committee is an exercise of the prerogative powers of the executive branch of but added it would have been better if the ongoing United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) had first been assessed before the issuance of Administrative Order 22 creating the committee.

“I do not see any conflict between the SCHRC and the CHR…The CHR will maintain its independence as the national human rights institution created by the Constitution,” Palpal-latoc clarified.

Palpal-latoc declined to comment in detail about the new committee, saying the new body has yet to formulate its implementing guidelines.

“It remains to be seen,” he said.

He added that the CHR may agree to become an observer or a member of the new committee when invited “if only to give the CHR the chance to perform its bridging role” between the government as the main human rights duty bearer and the people as rights holders.

Palpal-latoc also declined to comment on fears that the new body would be used against the CHR as what it suffered under the Rodrigo Duterte administration or that it would be another bureaucratic layer that would siphon off public funding for human rights work to other agencies.

“I hope the government would see that aspect in regard to funding,” Palpal-latoc said when reminded that the CHR fund for 2024 had been slashed by Php51 million.

Palpal-latoc said he hopes SCHRC would be “another positive layer for human rights” and that it will not be used as a counter to critical reports and recommendation by the national human rights institution.

Rights groups such as Karapatan earlier slammed SCHRC’s creation as “window dressing” only aimed at “deodorizing” ongoing human rights violations under the Marcos government.

READ: BBM creates new human rights body; ‘window-dressing’ say activists

i-Defend, another human rights organization, bewailed to Kodao the lack of consultation with civil society organizations before SCHRC’s creation, more so that the UNJP has yet to formally end on July 31.

“Shouldn’t we talk first? And why were civil society organizations not consulted about the creation of the new committee?” i-Defend spokesperson Rose Trajano asked.

CHR chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc (in gray suit) leads the launch of a new online complaints submission app. (R. Villanueva/Kodao)

CHR introduces new complaints submission service

Meanwhile, the CHR formally launched a new online platform to receive complaints of human rights violations during its Partners Summit with the diplomatic community, rights organizations and other civil society groups also last Monday.

The CHR Management Information System Monitoring Outlet (CHR MISMO) allows for easy filing of reports of rights violations and status tracking as well as availing of other services with an easy-to-use app that only requires minimal internet bandwith, CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia said.

CHR MISMO will go active on July 1, de Guaia added.

The initiative is part of the commission’s digitalization initiatives that also includes submission of alerts through messaging apps, such as those with journalists called CHR ALISTO ALERT.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)