HR Defenders bill undermines efforts to end local armed conflict
By Perla Lena / Philippine News Agency
REJECT. Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, spokesperson for the Western Visayas Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) on Friday (Jan. 21, 2022) called on well-meaning members of Congress to reject at all cost the proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection Act. The bill was approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives on January 17. (PNA file photo)
ILOILO CITY – The proposed Human Rights Defenders bill is nothing but a tool to “undermine” the government’s security forces and efforts to end the local community armed conflict, the Western Visayas
Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF6-ELCAC) said on Friday.
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, spokesperson for RTF6-ELCAC, called it a “desperate bid” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to derail the gains of the national TF-ELCAC and the Filipino people.
“It is an affront and an insult to all of us government workers and public servants who have worked for peace adapting the whole of nation approach and good governance under the NTF-ELCAC,” Gonzales said in a statement.
He added that the country has more than enough laws and statutes protecting citizens’ civil and political rights.
Further, it is winning the war for peace as people and communities have been freed from the clutches of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“The campaign for good governance has gained the trust of our people and has effectively addressed the root causes of the communist terrorist insurgency,” he said.
Gonzales called on well-meaning members of the House of Representatives with political will and courage to stand up against terrorism to “reject the bill at all cost”.
On Monday, Congress approved the bill on third and final reading with 200 affirmative votes, zero negative, and no abstention.
House Bill 10576 or the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act seeks to grant human rights defenders the right to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; form groups, associations, and organizations; solicit, receive, and utilize resources; seek, receive and disseminate information; and develop and advocate for human rights ideas, among others.
A counterpart measure, meanwhile, is pending in the Senate.
Gonzales said that the title of the bill is a “misnomer” since it presents itself as a law for HR defenders but the contents are “aimed at eroding and destroying the lawful structures that ensure that rights of the people are defended, preserved and upheld”. (PNA)