CHR fears 'bounty hunter culture,' slams walk of shame

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2016 08:07 PM

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is concerned that the drastic measures enacted by local officials to curb criminality may be violating laws and human rights.

"We are concerned [because] a reward for killing might create a bounty hunter culture that might lead to certain law enforcement personnel in Cebu shooting first to achieve maximum impact," said Chairman Chito Gascon on Tuesday.

Incoming Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he would pay policemen P50,000 for each criminal they kill and P5,000 for each one they wound while in the line of duty.

READ: Cebu mayor defends bounty for slain criminals

The CHR, for its part, recognizes the desire of all local officials to ensure safety and security among their constituents, but Gascon fears Osmeña's bounty offer won't exactly produce that.

"If they promote a culture of violence, what we might see is not the promise of law and order. Instead, lawlessness and fear will arise," he said.

Gascon underscored that as public officials, they took an oath to defend the constitution and uphold the laws.

"If they cross the line and violate the laws of the land then we will call them out," he said.

'WALK OF SHAME' IN TANAUAN, BATANGAS

CHR also slammed an incident in Tanauan, Batangas, where eleven drug suspects took the "walk of shame," in what Mayor Antonio Halili called "Flores de Pusher."

The suspects were paraded in town while wearing signs that read: "Ako'y Pusher, Wag Tularan." A makeshift arch that had the words "Flores de Pusher" was also raised in front of the suspects during the walk.

This practice, said Gascon, violates the presumption of innocence until prosecution that is stated in the law.

"We are prepared to acknowledge that our local officials would want to defend safety and security of their constituents, but they [must] do so with full respect of the law and human rights are very much part of our legal system," he said.

He reported that their regional delegation already prepared a resolution to call the local officials on this act.

Though many have already raised alarm over the pledges of the aforementioned local officials to take unconventional ways to curb criminality on their level, the CHR assures the public that they will stay true to their mandate to investigate all forms of human rights violations.

"The Commission on Human Rights is always ready and trying very hard to improve the way we’re doing our monitoring of human rights violations, reporting this to the public," said Gascon.

"With the pronouncements in the course of the campaign as well as the recent acts of local officials post-election, we do anticipate that we need to make sure that we are ready to face the issues squarely," he added.

CHR does not have prosecution power but they can submit their findings to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal cases, and to the Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for administrative cases.