Select Page

Gov’t reminded: Human rights is state’s obligation

Gov’t reminded: Human rights is state’s obligation

Allan Alegre of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) gave an overview of the history of human rights work in the Philippines as well as the current trends of human rights violations in the country at the National Discernment of Priests on their Prophetic Role, March 6, 2018. NICO BALBEDINA

By Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz

March 7, 2018


In the midst of what many call a reign of injustice and impunity in the country, a representative from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed that the state is obliged to protect and uphold human rights.

“Human rights is a state obligation. …Human rights is a state obligation; it’s not the obligation of CHR only. It’s an obligation of the entire state. The duty-bearer is the state. And it is enshrined in our Constitution,” explained Allan Alegre of the CHR at the
National Discernment of Priests on their Prophetic Role on Tuesday, March 6.

According to him, the Duterte administration has the three-fold obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.

Three-fold obligation

“If the state will not do anything [to address a situation], it should not do anything to the right holder,” said Alegre, giving the right to freely assemble as an example.

Second, the state has to protect human rights, he said, mentioning this is why there are laws and international covenants against torture and enforced disappearances.

Lastly, the state has to promote and facilitate human rights, for example, by adopting relevant legislation, policies, and programs that promote women empowerment, said Alegre.

‘Not even human’

He noted how “human rights is being blurred as a concept.”

With regard to the hot-button topic of extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, Alegre showed to the members of the clergy gathered how “impunity and the normalization of political violence” are seen through four trends:

  • delegitimization of the human rights discourse
  • erosion of the rule of law and devaluation of due process
  • undermining of institutions of democracy
  • trivialization of gender violence

Alegre cited how President Rodrigo Duterte’s public statements and comments on killing drug addicts and even rape pave the way for a culture that makes it easy to trample on human rights.

He said: “Basically, the message [is]: ‘Human rights is not important. I don’t care about human rights. Human rights protects criminals and punishes the righteous law enforcers and besides, why are we talking about human rights when these people are not even human?’”

Aside from political issues like the EJKs and the proposed Charter Change, the gathering focused on the CBCP’s declaration of 2018 as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, the 6th year celebration of the Church in the Philippines’ 9-year “spiritual journey” towards 2021, the 500th year after the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.