(From left to right) Chairing the press conference for the Palawan media on May 22 were Atty. Vanessa Bautista from the Palawan office of the Commission on Human Rights, Atty. Brenda Canapi, regional director for CHR Mimaropa, Atty. Richard Palpal-latoc, CHR Commissioner, and Rachel Joy Pelayo from the Office of the CHR Executive Director.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted during their series of events at Costa Palawan on May 22 that the purpose of the Lakbay Karapatan tungo sa Kamalayan (LAKARAN) was to strengthen the CHR’s stakeholder’s initiatives by providing more ways for them to report on human rights violations.

CHR Commissioner Atty. Richard Palpal-Latoc said that Palawan governor Victorino Socrates had signed an executive order calling for the establishment of Human Rights Action Centers (HRAC) in the barangay level. He noted that it was a good step towards the manifestation of the LAKARAN advocacy.

“Ang role po ng CHR is to capacitate. Referral mechanism ng CHR ang LGU sa mga grassroots. Through the HRAC, doon makakatulong ang mga LGU sa mga nangyayaring human violations. Kung walang HRAC mahihirapan ang aming provincial office, maggiging busy sila sa pagko-collate ng mga data from that level, sa mga action sites,” Palpal-latoc said.

(The role of the CHR is to capacitate. The LGU is the CHR’s referral mechanism to grassroots levels. Through the HRAC, LGUs can assist in addressing human rights violations. Without HRAC, our provincial office will struggle, as they will be busy collating data from that level, from the action sites.)

Palpal-latoc noted that the CHR center in Palawan was established as recently as 2019. Before the provincial center’s launch, all human rights cases in Palawan and Puerto Princesa were handled directly by the CHR’s central office, which accounted for the long resolution time of pending human rights violation cases.

He said that if an officer of the LGU themselves committed a human rights violation, the CHR was not capacitated to prosecute cases. Instead, their role is to facilitate in addressing and collecting information on such cases, to be turned over to the proper department.

(They are looking for a prosecutor, which we in the CHR will not interfere with. What is really needed is for the local HRAC to capacitate themselves to report on human rights violations.)

Present during the series of CHR events at Costa Palawan were Atty. Brenda Canapi, regional director for the CHR in Mimaropa, and Atty. Vanessa Bautista from the CHR provincial office, located behind Drugman store in Brgy. Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City.

Bautista noted that those who would like to file reports on human rights violations in Palawan, could approach their office from 9am-5pm, or call the Palawan CHR hotline at 0975-458-8762.