06 December 2016
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CHR Statement on the Creation of a Presidential Task Force against Media Killings
The Commission on Human Rights responds, with great appreciation, to the official announcement of the Philippine Government on the establishment of a Presidential Task Force against media killings. Administrative Order 1 (AO No. 1), signed on 11 October 2016 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, creating the Presidential Task Force on the violation of the right to life, liberty and security of members of the media.
AO No. 1 recognizes the constant challenges faced by journalists and media workers in the Philippines who, in the exercise of their duties, are the subjects of attacks, intimidation, and threats perpetrated by State and non-State actors, because the former seek to report and uncover truths, facts and information. This is a welcome initiative and a continuing pursuit in fulfilling the State’s human rights obligations.
The Commission takes note that AO No. 1 has the mandate to ensure a safe environment for media workers as prescribed in Section 2, as well as to facilitate the protection of witnesses on media killings in accordance with Republic Act No. 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act. The composition of the task force includes heads of agencies that will investigate all cases of violence against media workers – unsolved cases, current and new incidents that are being brought to the attention of the task force. It is also commendable that online harassment and threats directed towards media workers will be looked in to, as social media platforms have also been identified as an emerging field rife with violations against the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We value the invitation to the CHR as one of the observers and resource persons in the implementation of the administrative order, together with the Ombudsman and media organizations.
While we understand that AO No. 1 will repeal AO No. 35 (2012) and will replace AO No. 211 (2007), the Commission urges the Government to continue investigating cases of extrajudicial killings committed against human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, trade unionists and ordinary citizens, including suspects of crimes, and that the State will apprehend and make perpetrators accountable to their grievous, systematic and widespread acts of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The Commission, as the country’s national human rights institution, is open to closely coordinating with the Government and the newly created Task Force. We put faith in the efforts of our Government in advocating for the observance and practice of the rule of law and due process in protecting the right to life and dignity of all persons.
Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia
OIC, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Office
Telephone No: (02) 528-5792 / 09175919833
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org