This photo taken on June 8, 2021 shows the facade of the Human Rights Commission office in Quezon City. INQUIRY / NIÑO JESUS ​​​​ORBETA

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday acknowledged UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan's preliminary findings on the situation of freedom of opinion and expression in the Philippines, saying it looked forward to the government's implementation of measures to address the gaps she identified. .

“We are certain that the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations will be seen as non-negotiable to further improve the human rights situation in the country. This will also show the Philippines’ compliance with its obligation to respect human rights standards at national and international levels,” he said in a statement.

At the same time, the HRC said it recognizes the need to improve current conditions for Filipinos to exercise their right to expression, especially in the face of threats such as red-tagging, violence against journalists and restrictive policies.

He added that he reaffirmed his call for partnership with the government to end the practice of red tagging, which he described as a human rights violation that could lead to other acts of violence that put the public in danger.

At the same time, the CDH called on the National Working Group to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) to review its mandate and adopt a human rights-based approach to solving the problem of insurgency.

“It should be noted that the CDH held a forum on Red-tagging on December 6, 2023, where representatives of civil society, together with GTN-Elcac, participated in discussions to gather knowledge on the subject and promote dialogue constructive between interested parties.

This year, the CDH should carry out its inquiry into red marking to further nuance the dialogue between the government and civil society about the damage caused by these actions to the life, freedom and safety of the public”, he stated.

Violence against the media

He also echoed Khan's call for the Presidential Working Group on Media Safety to review its approach to investigating violence against journalists and establish a standard definition of a media worker.

“To better understand the dangers and challenges that prevent journalists from fully carrying out their work, it is up to the Philippine government to recognize that their duty to convey the truth to the public carries a heavier risk to their safety,” the HRC said. .

He added that he looks forward to the measures being taken by the government to resolve the problems identified by Khan, while continuing to fulfill his mandate.

READ: NTF-Elcac must review and evaluate the mandate – CHR

These include promoting and protecting freedom of expression in the country through activities such as holding a forum and a red-tagging survey, and providing policy advice and training to relevant stakeholders.

Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, recently visited the Philippines at the invitation of the government.

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While in the country, he met with various officials, civil society groups, media organizations and human rights defenders. Khan is expected to present his full report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024. —RUSSEL LORETO INQ