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Former Ombudsman investigator is new CHR commissioner

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Former Ombudsman investigator is new CHR commissioner
Handout photo from the Commission on Human Rights shows Commissioner Beda Angeles Epres.
Commission on Human Rights

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission of Human Rights announced Tuesday the appointment of lawyer Beda Angeles Epres as a new commissioner of the body tasked to investigate human rights violations involving civil and political rights.

Epres is the first out of the five anticipated appointments to the CHR en banc—the highest decision and policy-making body of the constitutional body

He will serve from 2022 to 2029. CHR commissioners and the chairperson are appointed to seven-year terms and cannot be reappointed.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. signed the appointment letter of Epres on September 15. It took him more than two months to begin filling vacancies in the commission.

Four commissioners under CHR’s fifth en banc ended their terms on May 5. The body’s chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon passed away in 2021.

Investigation background

Prior to his appointment to CHR, Epres was a career official at the Office of the Ombudsman. He started as Graft Investigator and Prosecution Officer I in 1997.

His last position at the anti-graft body was Director IV of the Field Investigation Office’s General Investigation Bureau A.

Early in his career, Epres was also an officer at the National Power Corporation and a part-time lecturer at the Far Eastern University, his alma mater.

He took up law at the Arellano University School of Law and was admitted to the Bar in 1995.

The CHR said the expertise and the credibility of the 51-year-old commissioner in conducting independent probes are crucial to human rights protection.

The commission said that focusing on investigations, and advancing the rights of older people and children are the priorities of Epres.

“CHR is optimistic that Commissioner Epres will continue to contribute in making the commission a steadfast and formidable institution that caters to all people, especially the weak, vulnerable, and marginalized, and in responding to the present and emerging human rights challenges of our time,” it said.

As the commission is set to undergo accreditation as a status “A” national human rights institution, it stressed the importance of pluralism and independence in the selection of commission en banc members.

Human Rights Watch earlier said the appointment of CHR commissioners will be an “important first test” for the Marcos administration’s commitment to human rights as it called for a transparent and inclusive selection process.

The CHR was created as a response to the atrocities committed during martial law.

The chief executive and his clan have yet to acknowledge the atrocities committed during his dictator father’s regime, and publicly apologize to the victims and their families.

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

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