Monday, May 16, 2011
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 17, 2011-Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights bats to strengthen the functional and structural organization of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that will exercise concurrent prosecutorial powers and functions where the bill grants CHR visitorial powers to all detention cells all over the country to monitor the state of the facilities and detainees.
Escudero sponsored Committee Report No. 37 which seeks further amendment to the CHR's current charter and equip it with prosecutorial powers similar to that of the Department of Justice (DOJ) over cases involving human rights violation, pointing out that under its present mandate, CHR is neither a judicial nor a quasi-judicial body. Its jurisdiction is limited only to civil and political rights. We want to equip it with significant power to include economic, social and cultural rights.
“The CHR is restricted by the Constitution to preventive measures only such as initiating applications in court for judicial writs and orders, conduct investigation and receive evidence of violations of human rights, among others,” Escudero said, saying that through the measure the commission will be more empowered, thus rendering it more effective and authoritative if its jurisdiction includes quasi-judicial power.
“CHR mandate is vital in ensuring that it enacts the state policy to secure, to protect and to guarantee the dignity of its citizens and to ensure the fulfillment of such citizens' human rights; thus, CHR could no longer be regarded as a toothless tiger,” Escudero said.
The bill stated that CHR's empowerment, any arrests made by any of the law enforcement agencies should be reported to the CHR within 48 hours. (Jason de Asis)
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