MANILA – The government remains committed to upholding accountability and sustaining a functional justice system that complies with the highest standards of protecting human rights, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day Philippine Human Rights Summit 2020 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, Guevarra said the government continues to hold the ideals that sustainable peace can only come hand in hand with public confidence in the justice system.
“Peace is the work of justice. True peace demands more than security. True peace requires that the rights and liberties of our people are recognized by law, and guaranteed by the institutions through which they are enforced. Without justice, peace is compromised,” Guevarra said. “Accountability before the law is as much a crucial component of every effort to attain and rebuild peace.”
He also noted that Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 has no shortcuts that would trample on human rights.
He noted that the law’s implementing rules and regulations clearly state that the prosecution has the burden to prove intent to endanger life or public safety.
“This prevents the abuse of the law to trifle without people’s exercise of their most fundamental rights,” he added.
Guevarra also clarified provisions of the ATA on “public notice” of those identified with designated terror groups, adding that the provision in effect is an efficient mechanism to allow unjustly targeted individuals to dispute their “listing”.
“By institutionalizing public notice concerning the result of the ATC’s (Anti-Terrorism Council) designation process, we give those adversely affected the opportunity to contest the designation and to avail themselves of delisting as a remedy,” Guevarra said. “Our realities today may differ from those of decades past. The threats we face, their causes and complications, and the forces behind them maybe. But their very existence underscores the fragility of our peace.”
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III underscored the need to uphold workers’ rights in his speech during the summit.
For his part, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said the international body would continue to work with stakeholders in the country to address challenges.
“We will work with the government of the Philippines, the Human Rights Commission, and civil society organizations, and we will draw on international experience and best practices to address human rights challenges,” Gonzalez said.
He also lauded the Philippine government for its active engagement and commitment to upholding human rights.
“A human rights lens puts everyone in the picture and ensures that no one is left behind. To the government of the Philippines — I want to thank you for your engagement and commitment that I have seen during my six months in this country. The United Nations pledges its full support and cooperation through our humanitarian, development and human rights programs,” he said.
Gonzalez also recalled the Philippines’ historical part in creating the ideals and principles behind the creation of the United Nations more than half a century ago when the Philippines was represented by Carlos P. Romulo.
“Interestingly, if you look at the UN seal today, you will find a tiny dot which is depicting the Philippines, in the area between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. General Romulo insisted on that dot. In this spirit, each of us can all stand up for rights taking action. it may have been only a dot …but to those of us here, it is where human rights, development, and peace and security become real and have meaning,” Gonzalez said. (PNA)