Representatives for the Commission on Human Rights pose with Palawan media during the LAKARAN event series at Costa Palawan. (Photo from Rouel Caralipio)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) met with members of the Palawan local media to affirm its commitment to the Philippine Plan of Action on the safety of journalists, launched through their LAKARAN advocacy starting January 2024.

The CHR launched the Alert Mechanism on Human Rights Violation (ALISTO) of CHR’s Tanggol Mamahayag as a way for members of the media to have a direct and encrypted line to the CHR. This ALISTO mechanism is in the form of a private, CHR-led group chat where journalists can report on cases of alleged human rights violations against their person directly to the CHR. 

CHR Commissioner Atty. Richard Palpal-latoc noted that the ALISTO mechanism had already assisted three cases of Philippine journalists facing human rights violations since it went online.

However, Palpal-latoc noted that the ALISTO mechanism is limited within the CHR’s mandate, a feature that he wants to expand next year.

“Ang practice kasi, pagkahanap ng findings of violations, directly from us, it is then appropriately released to authorities like the ombudsman, the Department of Justice, or rather the others that have the authority to adjudicate or to prosecute since walang power ang CHR to prosecute,” he said.

He noted that this was the same with the barangay-level Human Rights Action Centers that the LAKARAN initiative launched last year, as it was a revitalization of a joint memorandum circular between the CHR and the Department of Interior and Local Governance.

Palpal-latoc said that while he did not have the numbers on hand during the event, that the ALISTO mechanism was launched due to the high number of alleged violations of journalists’ human rights during the previous administration. He noted that the CHR was currently working closely with the International Criminal Court.

“Ang CHR present sila, nakaraan mayroong national media forum on safety of journalists, yung first Philippine media summit na dinaluhan ng Commission. The other is on international media safety.  Ang purpose natin, tumutulong kasi kami sa media ayon sa plan of action sa safety of journalists. Initiative ay ma-engage din ang media practitioners from different regions para malaman din yung mga issues and concerns affecting your rights,” Palpal-latoc added.