Karapatan welcomes House committee approval of bill on the protection of rights defenders

Photo by Ara Eugenio/Reportr

Photo by Ara Eugenio/Reportr

Human rights alliance Karapatan welcomed the approval of the bill seeking the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protect Act at the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights today, even with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) “sinister attempts” to “hijack” the committee’s deliberation by red-tagging the authors of the proposed measures and the resource persons who joined the deliberation.

“It comes as no surprise that the NTF-ELCAC and its cabal of red-taggers are shamelessly blocking the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act; after all, who else would be afraid of it than those guilty of perpetrating attacks on human rights defenders? The NTF-ELCAC’s rabid red-tagging during the deliberations today only underscore the urgency of the bill’s passage, and we laud the House Committee on Human Rights and the principal authors of the proposals for approving the bill,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

The NTF-ELCAC has repeatedly opposed the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act, with its various spokespersons claiming that the proposed measure is “unnecessary” or even “illegal” — this despite the call of independent human rights experts such as Mary Lawlor, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, to make the passage of such measure a priority to uphold the Philippine government’s international human rights obligations.

While Palabay welcomed the House committee’s approval of the bill, she said that the bill’s passage “still has a long way to go, and the NTF-ELCAC and its minions would surely concoct more ridiculous reasons to block the bill in Congress while intensifying their efforts to attack and vilify human rights defenders, activists, government critics, and anyone who stands in the way of the Duterte regime’s murderous, corrupt, and tyrannical rule.”

“We strongly call on our lawmakers to pass the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act — and upholding human rights should be at the top of the legislative agenda of those running for a seat in Congress in the upcoming elections. Moreover, we assert our call to abolish the NTF-ELCAC. Their hardline opposition against the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act and red-tagging of the authors of this proposed measure displays clearly why the measure is important,” the Karapatan official ended.