CHR: Citizens' rights must be respected amid ‘state of lawlessness’

Janvic Mateo - Philstar.com
CHR: Citizens' rights must be respected amid �state of lawlessness�
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MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it would monitor the implementation of the government’s declaration of “state of lawless violence” as it stressed that citizen’s rights should be respected and not be suspended.
“In times of crisis or terrorist attack, the executive authorities are given some latitude to restore law and order in order to ensure the safety of civilians and to protect their enjoyment of rights,” CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said.
“Nonetheless, the Constitution establishes mechanisms in order to prevent any abuse that may occur in pursuing these goals - these include resort to courts & the ability of Congress to deliberate upon the exercise of powers. The Constitutional Bodies will monitor,” he added.
Gascon called on law enforcement officials to bear in mind that the rights of citizens are not suspended and must be respected in the pursuit of their objectives.
Duterte declared a nationwide state of lawless violence following the deadly blast in Davao City on Friday night.
Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution allows the president, as commander-in-chief, to “call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the declaration does not involve invasion or rebellion, hence no declaration of martial law or a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was made.

Respect human rights

Meanwhile, human rights organization Amnesty International called on the government to uphold human rights as it responds to the deadly attack.
“Victims and survivors, including the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, have a right to seek and obtain justice. The government should respect this right by ordering an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation, leading to fair trials of suspected perpetrators,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s senior research adviser for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Patel said that the callous disregard shown by the attackers for people’s right to life must not be met by government action that itself disregards human rights.
“Resort to unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests or other human rights violations will only play into the hands of those who seek an ever-widening cycle of violence and abuse,” he added.

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