President Rodrigo Duterte during his state of the nation address (SONA).

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in a statement response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA) Monday, acknowledged the national government’s efforts at promoting some aspects of human rights such as social, economic, and cultural rights. But it denounced at the same time the “culture of killings and the blatant disregard for the rule of law” that it said continues to prevail around the country.

“We recognize what the government has achieved thus far in championing the right to education through access to free quality tertiary education; right to health through the Universal Healthcare Act, and the people’s right to effective and efficient public service through the Ease of Doing Business Act among others,” CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

The same statement however criticized the government’s record on upholding civil and political rights, pointing to “a culture of killings” and “disregard for the rule of law.”

“We decry the culture of killings and the blatant disregard for the rule of law,” de Guia said.

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“We emphasize that the call to respect the rights of the accused does not mean disregarding the crimes committed and its ill effect to victims. In every call to the government to also investigate and act, CHR also demands that perpetrators be made accountable in recognition of the harm and consequences of crimes as forms of human rights abuse and violation,” she added.

President Duterte, in his SONA address, brushed aside the human rights-related criticisms of his administration.

The CHR urged the government to adopt a “holistic” approach in its human rights policy.

“Efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country needs to be holistic—involving both civil and political rights, and social, economic, and cultural rights,” it said.

The CHR also called for “the realization and meaningful implementation” of other priority bills that also pursues protection of human rights, including the creation of the Center for Disease Control, Virology, and Vaccine Institute; protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers; setting up of evacuation centers nationwide and focus on improving the country’s disaster resiliency to name a few.

“We continue to urge the government to uphold their sworn mandate to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights and dignity of all. CHR remains to be hopeful that, despite such pronouncements that seem to tolerate a culture of killing and impunity, authorities will still adhere in doing what is good and right, as guided by our laws,” de Guia said.

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