“As a human-rights institution, we respect Maj. Gen. Villanueva’s right to freedom of expression and opinion. However, we draw the line at false accusations and baseless innuendos,” de Lima added.
As to Villanueva’s misgivings about the inclusion of Manalo in the visiting team, de Lima asserted that the CHR has the prerogative to determine who shall allow to take part in its inspections.
Article XIII, Section 18 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution http://www.chanrobles.com/article13humanrights.htm lays down the CHR’s powers and functions including, among others, to investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights; to exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities; and to monitor the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty on human rights.
De Lima (second from left) with Melissa Roxas (right), Marie Hilao Enriquez of Karapatan and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo. (Photo by Vince Borneo / bulatlat.com)
“The Constitution grants the commission broad powers of investigation and visitation. And it has been our firm and consistent position that CHR does not need prior clearance from any authority to fulfill its investigative and visitorial mandate,” de Lima said.
Karapatan’s Enriquez believes that what the CHR is doing is a boost to human rights in the Philippines. She, however, bewailed the attempts by the military to discredit the commission. “Now that the CHR chairperson insists on the mandate of the commission, they consider her as an enemy,” Enriquez said. “That is the most dangerous mindset. Their bigotry kills.” (Bulatlat.com)