CHR asks PH gov’t to cooperate with UNHRC probe

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1352

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday called on the Philippine government to fully cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it sets to conduct a review of the human rights situation in the country.

On Thursday (July 11), the UN rights council adopted an Iceland-led resolution which seeks a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human rights situation due to allegations of violations, particularly in the conduct of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

It also asked the government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

Eighteen countries, mostly from Europe, voted for the resolution; 14 voted against it while 15 others abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

In a statement, the CHR said that rather than “maintaining acrimony and the hurling of threats of possible consequences,” the Philippine government should open spaces for dialogue with other nations “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.”

“It must show both the international community & our own people that it is willing & able to hold perpetrators to account, to protect all human rights defenders, to stop the killings, & to end impunity,” added the agency, which it says, is an independent institution mandated by the Constitution to monitor State compliance with all human rights norms and standards.

The CHR also reiterated its previous calls for the government to allow “thorough, transparent, and independent investigations of all alleged violations of human rights in the country by demonstrating to the world that “our local mechanisms are genuinely working and are sufficient to address demands for justice and the rule of law to prevail.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction with the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of President Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

President Duterte, on the other hand, said UN investigators should first state their purpose and he will review if they will be allowed into the country.

“Kasi kung magdagdag lang sila sa intriga, they better go to the media and the media will tell them the truth. Eh ipalabas ninyo ‘yung footages ninyong lahat and all, and that will clear everybody,” Duterte said.

Duterte wants to speed up release of sickly, aging prisoners

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to speed up the release of sickly and aging prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Duterte specifically wants to fast-track the release of inmates who are 70 years old and above.

“I’ll ask the administration, whoever will take over or the Secretary of Justice to fast-track ‘yung mga may sakit na at talagang matatanda na. Ako mag-set ako, 70 years old or 75, 70,” he told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.

The chief executive pointed out that elderly and sick prisoners within the said age bracket can no longer run nor commit criminal acts. Most of them also do not want to be released anymore.

“Hindi na marunong mag-holdup ‘yan. Hindi na makatakbo ‘yan,” he said.

Duterte made the statement in the wake of the controversy on the early release of heinous crime convicts from the NBP through the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

The president earlier set a 15-day deadline for some 1,914 heinous criminals freed due to the GCTA rule to surrender or face re-arrest.

READ: Duterte orders freed heinous crime convicts to surrender

READ: Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Two days before the ultimatum lapses on Sept. 19, Duterte offered a P1 million bounty for each heinous crime convict who failed to comply with the order. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte offers P1M bounty for capture of GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is offering a P1 million bounty for the capture of each heinous crime convict released through Republic Act 10592 or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA)law who will fail to surrender to authorities before or on Sept. 19.

Duterte made the announcement two days before his 15-day ultimatum for GCTA-freed convicts to surrender lapses.

“Basta ako sinabi ko, I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive. But maybe dead would be a better option,” the president told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

“I will pay you smiling. Ibalik ko ‘yan preso, makakain pa ‘yang p***** i**** ‘yan. Gagastos pa ako,” he added.

Last Sept. 4, Duterte ordered convicts who were freed early for good behavior to present themselves within 15 days to the nearest police or military camp for the investigation and recomputation of their good conduct credits.

He warned that those who will fail to comply with the order would be treated as fugitives.

As of Wednesday (Sept. 18), a total of 964 GCTA-freed convicts have surrendered to authorities and are now under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) custody, according to the Department of Justice.

This number is more than half of the 1,914 heinous criminals who were released for good behavior under the expanded GCTA rule.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and a Senate inquiry into the issue revealed the alleged modes of corruption in the national penitentiary involving several BuCor employees.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law, which was enacted in 2013 during the time of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to specifically state who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte won’t extend 15-day deadline for surrender of GCTA-freed convicts – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not extend the 15-day deadline he issued for the surrender of convicts who were freed early under good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, Malacañang said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said convicts prematurely freed on GCTA would have to surrender to authorities within the given grace period because they would be treated as fugitives if they fail to comply with the order.

The deadline, which the president issued last Sept. 4, will lapse on Thursday, Sept. 19.

“As the president said, when the 15-day deadline lapses, they will be deemed to be fugitives from justice and they can be arrested,” Panelo told reporters in a Palace briefing on Monday.

Duterte earlier warned GCTA beneficiaries he might consider putting a P1 million bounty per inmate if they fail to present and register themselves for the recomputation of their good conduct credits.

The controversy began after news broke out that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez could be among the 11,000 persons deprived with liberty (PDL) who may be eligible for the expanded GCTA given to inmates.

Sanchez was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

The controversy led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and the revelation of supposed modes of corruption in the national penitentiary during a Senate inquiry.

It also prompted the present government to revise the implementing rules and regulations of the law to specifically state who are not eligible to avail of the expanded rule.

BuCor data earlier said that since the law’s implementation in 2014, around 1,914 heinous crimes convicts were released.

As of Monday (Sept. 16), 658 GCTA beneficiaries have surrendered to authorities and are now under BuCor’s custody.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said it has already formed more than 120 tracker teams to be deployed when the 15-day surrender period ends.

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