CHR to press on with rights education despite vetoed creation of Human Rights Institute

Published by rudy Date posted on January 4, 2022

by Gaea Katreena Cabico – Philstar.com, 4 Jan 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission of Human Rights said it is “saddened” by President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to veto the establishment of the Human Rights Institute, but vowed it will continue to make human rights education accessible to people.

Duterte rejected a provision in Republic Act 11639 or the General Appropriations Act of 2022 that establishes the HRI, a flagship program of the CHR. The president said no “appropriation is provided for the purpose,” meaning there is no funding set aside for it.

In a statement Tuesday, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit maintained the item appropriation is for the discharge of the agency’s constitutional mandate.

“The establishment of a Human Rights Institute is a longtime vision of previous and present commissions in ensuring crucial human rights education is made accessible to the people and for government personnel to better understand their role as primary duty-bearers in fulfilling human rights obligations to faithfully comply with human rights standards and principles,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

“The HRI was envisioned to fight against revisionism and provide a gateway for robust human rights education programs with other government institutions,” she added.

Duterte’s term—which will end on June 30—has been characterized by extrajudicial executions, rise in the climate of impunity, and deteriorating human rights situation, observers said.

The president has repeatedly said that he does not care about human rights although the government maintains that it is aware of its obligations to uphold and promote human rights.

Relevance in addressing world’s problems

During the institute’s launch last month, Gomez-Dumpit stressed the need to study human rights, which is relevant in addressing impunity, climate change, inequality, and other modern-day challenges.

HRI offers general, special and professional courses online, which can be availed by law enforcers, jail personnel, judges, and prosecutors. It will also offer webinars, learning modules, and specialized courses on human rights.

“The institute will not cause additional burden to the government as this will be undertaken with existing resources of the commission while harnessing its potential for collaboration and partnerships with other institutions and organizations to further support it,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

Despite the “disheartening” veto, the CHR will press on, the commissioner vowed.

“We shall continue to pound the walls of impunity to convey the message of human rights straight and across to our people. We are fully committed to continuously engage government and encourage them to do better as we work towards educating the people about human rights and promoting human rights of all,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

Gender responsive restrooms also vetoed

The commission also expressed disappointment with the veto of the transportation department’s Gender Responsive Restroom Program.

“This appropriations item sought to address a specific gender and human rights issue—it was meant to recognize diversity of DOTr clients and ensure safe access to essential facilities without discrimination,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

“Efforts showing commitment to gender equality and non-discrimination deserve support through the provision of sufficient resources.”

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