‘Killings, harassment, censorship worsen rule of law in PH’ -- CHR


Everyone, including government officials and employees, are subject to Philippine laws, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed as it sounded alarm over the “worsening” rule of law in the country.

In a statement issued through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the CHR said it has been consistent in raising concerns over the increasing deaths amidst the anti-illegal drugs campaign, the media killings, harassments, and censorship, among others.

The CHR stressed that “the rule of law rests on the four principles of accountability: just law, open government, accessibility, and impartial justice.”

“Under the rule of law, all individuals, including the government are subject to the law and should be guided by its principles," De Guia said.

The CHR’s statement was issued following the World Justice Project’s (WJP's) release of the 2021 Rule of Law Index where Philippines ranked 102nd out of 139 countries worldwide in complying with rule of law.

The CHR said: “Accountability is not only national in scope, but also seeks adherence to international agreements agreed upon by the state.”

Thus, it said, it has “urged against, from the beginning, legislative action for the re-imposition of the death penalty.”

“While the country remains death penalty free, legislative agendas to reintroduce capital punishment further mar our efforts to ensure obligation to international human rights law such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," De Guia said.

Reports stated that the WJP Rule of Law Index, which covers 139 nations, is based on national surveys of more than 138,000 households and 4,200 legal practitioners and experts to measure "how the rule of law is experienced and perceived worldwide."

The WJP's highest score is 1 while 0 is the lowest possible score. In the recent report, the Philippines got an overall score of 0.46 for rule of law, indicating only that the Philippines' current rank was three places lower than its ranking last year.

Moreover, among the East Asia and Pacific Region, the Philippines is at 13th place out of 15 other Asian nations, WJP said.

De Guia said: "We recall that in November of last year, the 2020 Gallup Global Law and Order report found, through randomized survey, the Philippines to be among the world’s safest countries. It may be hard to reconcile how a country is perceived to be safe by its citizens but rank low on another survey commissioned focusing on the rule of law. We cannot ignore that present realities on the ground coupled with the pandemic have changed the view of individuals.”

Amidst the current low ratings, De Guia said the CHR is hopeful on the leadership of Philippine National Police Chief Guillermo Eleazar and Department of Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.

"The Commission too will continue to do its part in exacting accountability for human rights violations," she said.