CHR says no data shared yet under pact with DOJ on rights violations probes
In this photo taken August 18, 2020, Anakpawis holds 'Candle Lighting for Justice' for slain activists Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez.

CHR says no data shared yet under pact with DOJ on rights violations probes

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - October 8, 2020 - 6:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — A month after the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice signed a pact on data-sharing on investigations into cause-oriented killings, but no data has been shared yet to the commission, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said Thursday.

The CHR is also yet to be told of what "role" it will play in the Philippine government panel reviewing drug war operations that resulted in deaths, a month before the panel is due to release a report.

In a forum hosted by In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement, Dumpit recalled that when Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra spoke of the panel in June, he said the CHR “would play a role” in the review.

Dumpit said they wrote a letter to the DOJ days after the Guevarra’s announcement, and have since written thrice, but “they have not responded yet on what role we will play.”

Guevarra spoke of the panel at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 44th Session in June 30.

Then-Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said that the panel is composed for the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the Departments of the Interior and Local Government and Foreign Affairs, the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretary, Presidential Management Staff, Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

The DOJ, PHRCS, DILG, PCOO and DFA make the final evaluation, while the law enforcement agencies are included for sharing of data and documents, Perete said.

Dumpit said that they met with Perete last week who confirmed they received the commission’s letters but are not ready to respond yet.

But Perete has since resigned from his post. Dumpit lamented that this may mean that they are “back to square one.”

READ: Inter-agency panel on drug war should be given a chance, Guevarra says | EcuVoice: UN rights resolution a 'letdown' but no victory for government

Data-sharing agreement

The United Nations Human Rights Council considered greatly the role of the Philippine government’s drug war review panel, as seen in its adopted resolution that called for capacity building to improve the human rights situation in the country. The resolution stopped short of launching an independent, on-the-ground investigation, which many human rights groups have been calling for.

The UNHRC also recognized the creation of the drug war panel and the data-sharing agreement between the DOJ and CHR on the Administrative Order 35 Secretariat, signed on September 2.

AO 35 created the Inter-agency Committee on Extra-legal Killings, Enforced Disappearance, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons, which is chaired by the justice secretary.

The administrative order was issued in 2012 to address allegations that state and non-state actors have been "silencing, through violence and intimidation, legitimate dissent and opposition raised by members of the civil society, cause-oriented groups, political movements, people’s and non-government organizations, and by ordinary citizens."

No data has been shared yet under the agreement, Dumpit said. But she added that the DOJ has called for a face-to-face meeting, and CHR Chair Chito Gascon attended the meeting on Thursday.

She shared that a discussion was held among stakeholders and agencies under the AO 35. “We did have many questions that we post in that workshop... because we want to be clarified,” Dumpit said.

“Is AO35 be expanded to cover all killings? [What are] other mechanisms that will deal with the killings involving the campaign against illegal drugs?” she continued.

CHR will continue monitoring

The CHR official explained that the commission only serves as an “observer” in the AO 35 mechanism, but Dumpit remains hopeful. She noted that the agreement is still a positive development, even if it’s a recent one.

“We will still ensure the progress of that data-sharing agreement and it has to cover two ways, because we need a lot of information, on what those cases are,” she said.

“It’s just recently signed. We expect a lot more,” Dumpit said.

“We will hold their word to it, as the spokesperson said earlier, the Philippines vows full cooperation. Each and every word in that resolution will essentially be translated into indicators so we can objectively say whether the Philippine government is really living up to the commitment when it spearheaded the resolution with Iceland,” she added.

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