Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!

Partnership with media, essential to CHR — Commissioner Gana

SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines – To be effective in its mission, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) needs the cooperation of the media, said Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana in an event here Tuesday.
Commissioner Pimentel-Gana was here for the groundbreaking ceremony for the regional office building of CHR in SOCCSKSARGEN Region at the Regional Center in Carpenter Hill.
“We really appreciate if you could bring to our attention violations of human rights,” Commissioner Pimentel-Gana told members of South Cotabato press when asked if media personnel could report to CHR human rights abuses.
She emphasized that since the media are in the frontline and are among the first to know of human rights violations, “you can serve as our agent in bringing cases to the attention of CHR.”
Pimentel-Gana clarified that the CHR does not have prosecutorial powers.
“CHR was created as an independent body but based on our implementing rule our function is basically overseeing. We police by bringing to the attention of agencies abuses and violations. We can also recommend prosecution of erring officials through the Department of Justice of the Office of the Ombudsman but we do not have prosecutorial powers.”
Given this situation, she added, “it is essential for CHR to partner with the media for wider reach and bringing into public attention such violations.”
Such collaboration would also help address the imbalance between the commission’s mandate and the insufficient resources, she said.
“In truth, our manpower is insufficient. Our offices are lacking in lawyers and investigators, she pointed out.
SOCCSKSARGEN Region’s CHR office, according to Officer-in-charge Atty. Erlan Deluvio, has only 27 personnel, that is “including the utility staff.”
“We have only two lawyers and nine investigators,” Atty. Deluvio told Philippine Information Agency. The two lawyers, he explained, include him as the OIC; he other is assigned at the legal division.
“Based on our plantilla, we have positions for seven lawyers but these have not been filled in for lack of applicants. Having at least 20 investigators would be ideal for our operations,” he said.
Since the creation of CHR in 1987 until just recently, their mobility was also limited by only a single vehicle, that is currently unserviceable. With aid from the Spanish Government and the UN, CHR 12 recently acquired two additional vehicles to address this particular concern.
Elaborating on this situation further, Deluvio noted that at present, CHR 12 has more than 200 cases pending for resolution.
“Only lawyers can resolve these cases and there are more cases being filed than we are able to resolve.” he added.
CHR 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato City.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.