MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives’ move to reduce the budget of the Commission on Human on Rights to P1,000 would add evidence to the case filed against President Rodrigo Durerte before the International Criminal Court (ICC), former CHR chairperson Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales said Thursday, Sept. 14.
“They [referring to House members] are digging their own grave. You know there are people who actually filed a case before the ICC. They destroy CHR, that’s evidence,” Rosales said.
“That’s evidence of killing democracy and will add evidence to whatever charges they have before the international criminal court,” added Rosales, among those who fought for the Philippines’ ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.
Rosales echoed the statement of political analyst Antonio “Tony” La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, in a television interview that the slashed budget might have placed the complaint against Duterte at the ICC stronger as crippling the CHR would remove one of “accountability mechanisms” in place in the country.
Last April, lawyer Jude Sabio, counsel of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, filed a complaint against Duterte and 11 other government officials before the ICC at The Hague, Netherlands.
Sabio claimed that Duterte should be held reliable for committing crimes against humanity since 1988, citing the alleged deaths carried out by the Davao Death Squad when the chief executive was still Davao mayor and the victims of his present war against illegal drugs.
The ICC was established to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
Way to ‘neutralize and reduce’
Rosales said reducing the budget of the CHR was a way to “neutralize and reduce” the office as being “an inutile institution.”
She also described the House’s action as “an insult to the Filipino people,” whether or not the President was directly responsible.
“Insulto ito sa mamayang Pilipino sapagkat ang Commission on Human Rights ay isang constitutional office para ipagtanggol ang karapatang pantao.”
[This is an insult to the Filipinos because the Commission on Human Rights is a constitutional office designed to defend human rights.]
“‘Pag inalis ito, inalis na rin ang proteksyon ng mamayang tao [If you remove this office, you have also removed the protection for the people],” she added.
She also chastised Duterte for allegedly not wanting to enforce the principles of checks and balance, citing the many remarks the president had said in his previous speeches.
“On the principles of checks and balances, he never wants…to be checked…he does not like human rights,” she said.
“Mister Duterte does not want checks and balance to operate. It’s a very undemocratic approach to governance,” Rosales added.
Rosales mentioned that Duterte, in his inaugural speech, had asked the Congress and the CHR to stay out and allow him to enforce his war on drugs.
“I remember it very well. He said ‘Congress, Commission on Human rights, stay out’ but in more edited language,” she said.
The former CHR chief also cited the President’s description of his war on drugs as being bloody and terrible in his speeches at military camps.
‘Rise up, don’t allow rights to be violated’
She also mentioned Duterte’s assertions to the police to give drug suspects guns and push them to fight back.
“That’s planting evidence. Mister Duterte is teaching police to plant evidence,” said Rosales.
She also agreed with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ early statements that Duterte “is goading people to kill people.”
Rosales urged the public to rise up collectively and not allow their rights to be violated.
“‘Yan ang nahalata ko sa kanya. ‘Pag ang dami-dami na ang nagagalit, umaatras siya (referring to Duterte) [That ‘s what I observed from him. If many people are angry, he retreats],” she said.
“We should continue to defend what we have won in Edsa (referring to the People Power uprisings) and elsewhere,” she added.