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Proper forum for human rights abuses.

Since the war against the Maute group in Marawi City broke out, which prompted the declaration and extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, newspapers and social media feeds have been replete with news and reports about human rights abuses allegedly committed (or being committed) by the military and other uniformed personnel. This is despite the categorical statement by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the absence of any abuse or infractions, to date.

Such statement notwithstanding, still, various demonstrations and rallies have been staged and tons of allegations have been thrown against the government.

As a concerned citizen, I also await criminal or human rights cases to be instituted so as to finally redress any wrong and vindicate people's rights as asserted by so-called human rights advocates.

Now that the military is on its final stretch of redeeming Marawi from the despicable and demonic Maute group, PECULIARLY, not a single case has been filed or lodged either in the CHR or the courts.

We may recall that a Maranao leader, during a congressional session on martial law extension, narrated 'true' accounts of human rights abuses committed against rescued civilians by some 'uniformed personnel.' There were stories about pouring hot water on the hand of a 20-year-old mentally incapacitated individual and a certain woman who 'had to take off her clothes' in a crowded evacuation center. She even said she had photos and other proofs to back her claims.

Recently, some 300 indigenous people went to Manila to ventilate their 'concerns on human rights violations' by marching and staging a protest action.

It may likewise be recalled that the CHR, sometime in July 2017, stated that it shall monitor the presence of human rights violations especially in war-torn and stricken areas under martial law. Then, it deployed its central office personnel to verify and investigate such matters. Ever since, no follow-up reports have been reported in the media, much less complaints instituted to prosecute any alleged violation.

In my opinion, the only way to confront these issues is to invoke the power of the CHR and the courts, whichever is more practicable.

From what I know, a case may be filed by one who believes that he has a cause of action to do so. So, if one thinks he has a right protected by law and another person violated such right, he may always invoke the jurisdiction of any competent administrative body, court, or tribunal to protect his rights and hold the offender responsible for such violation.

Therefore, if there are indeed causes of action that would make a prima facie case of human rights abuses or violations, what human rights supporters and concerned parties should do is seek the assistance of the CHR or file their complaints before the courts in order to examine their merits and veracity and proceed against any erring military and police personnel, or individual. This same remedy was even encouraged by no less than the martial law administrator himself, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Given all the available remedies provided for by law, I find it quite unusual for these individuals and groups to waste their time in staging demonstrations and rant elsewhere instead of invoking and taking full advantage of our administrative and judicial processes.

If, indeed, they have valid or legitimate claims, they must ventilate these in the proper forum to be adjudicated upon accordingly. What prevents them from doing so?
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 29, 2017
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