Press Release
May 5, 2018

De Lima lauds CHR for keeping strong despite vicious attacks

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended the officials and personnel of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for unwaveringly holding the line for human rights despite relentless attacks by the Duterte administration.

De Lima expressed her admiration for the CHR-- which she considers as "the most maligned and ridiculed government institution at the instigation of President Duterte" -- and its members during the institution's 31st anniversary last May 5.

"We may be in a dark time now but I know that this country and the global community will never run out of brave and compassionate people that despite overwhelming odds will never falter in the fight for human dignity and freedoms," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 301.

Since Duterte assumed office, CHR, as with other human rights defenders, has been on the receiving end of scathing remarks and threats from no less than President Duterte himself and his henchmen.

Last year, Duterte threatened to abolish the agency following its alleged interference on how government security forces deal with drug-related cases and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, on his part, later threatened to slash CHR's budget to zero.

Admiring how CHR faced the intimidation against the institution, De Lima said "I am proud that it did not flinch nor was silenced when Duterte allies in Congress threatened to give CHR a zero budget." De Lima reminded CHR officials to exert concerted effort to remind Duterte that it was the mother law of the land that mandated the creation of their office.

"[They should remind Duterte] that among the State Policies found in Art. 2 is: 'The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights,'" she noted.

"The framers of the 1987 Constitution ensured that this would not just remain on paper, by tasking the State to establish the CHR under Art. 13, Secs. 17-19," she added.

Although Duterte and his minions have plunged the country into the worst human rights crisis, De Lima said she is not disheartened "because the CHR of today, despite the intimidation and pressure from Malacañang, remains defiant and active working towards full respect, promotion and fulfilment of our rights."

When she was CHR chair in 2009, De Lima led the investigation of then Davao City Mayor Duterte for his supposed involvement in the Davao Death Squad, which earned the ire of the latter.

With Duterte's vengeance, De Lima remains illegally and unjustly detained at the Philippine National Police - Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, over obviously trumped-up drug charges fabricated by the present administration.

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