NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews /17 Sept) — Upholding and securing the human rights of citizens is not just the responsibility of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) but is a shared responsibility with different agencies of the government with specific concerns and mandates, to mention a few as follows:
* Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines: the right to life and property;
* Department of Education / Commission on Higher Education;: the right to education;
* Department of Environment and Natural Resources: the right to a healthy and balanced environment;
* Department of Health: the right to health:
* Department of Agriculture: the right to food security;
* Department of Labor and Employment: the right to just treatment of workers
* Department of Social Welfare and Development: the rights of minors and the undeprivileged;
* Civil Service Commission: the right to meritorious employment and security in government service
The CHR may respond to reports, or motu propio, that is on its own initiative, conduct investigations on violations of citizens’ rights in above concerns; but considering its limited resources and manpower it leaves to or encourages each concerned agency the resolution of issues falling within its mandate; and focus instead its investigation on the abuses or excesses of government players in the exercise of their functions.
The CHR has no prosecutorial power and cannot resolve issues on its own. It has to refer its findings or results of its investigation to appropriate authorities for proper action.
The President of the Republic is supposed to be the number one protector of the human rights of citizens.
Particularly on the citizens’ right to life and property, the President, the PNP and other law enforcing agencies under his command are supposed primarily to secure it. It’s ironic that they are now blamed for the violation of this right in the light of the escalated extrajudicial killings resulting from the drug war. And they cannot escape blame even for the acts of criminal elements in the conduct of the war or those who are riding on it. Why? Because the Presidents and those under him are mandated by the Constitution to prevent the commission of crimes by anybody in this country and when these are committed, to haul the criminals to justice so they cannot threaten or harm the citizens again. If this is not done, or if crimes are not abated, but continue to proliferate, he and his agents are only to blame. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)