The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance protecting the rights and fundamental freedom of human rights defenders operating in the city, establishing protective mechanisms and appropriating funds for the said purpose.
Under the proposed ordinance, it will be a declared policy of the local government to value the dignity of every human person and to recognize, respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and fundamental freedom of persons, individually or in association with others, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, sexual orientation and gender identity, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Further, the city shall give highest priority to the implementation of enactments and issuances that guarantee respect, protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights and fundamental freedom; provide access to legal remedies preparative measures, including but not limited to monetary compensation and psycho-social accompaniment and rehabilitation to human rights violations victims and fully and strictly adhere to the principles and standards of human rights and fundamental freedom set by the Constitution and international human rights instruments including but not limited human rights instruments.
The ordinance claimed that all provisions of the said measure shall be construed to achieve its objectives and that all doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the said provisions shall be resolved in favor of the human rights defenders.
According to the proposal, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedom through peaceful means at the local, national, regional and international levels.
In exercising his or her rights enshrined in the ordinance, a human rights defender, individually or in association with others, shall be subject only to limitations that are prescribed by law, in accordance with international human rights obligations and standards, and are reasonable, necessary and proportionate, and are solely for the purpose of securing due recognition of and respect for the human rights and fundamental freedom of others and meeting the reasonable requirements of public order and general welfare in a democratic society.
The local government shall coordinate and cooperate closely with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Baguio field office and the civil society organizations on the streamlining of human rights education, investigation of complaints by human rights defenders and any other person who has suffered violation of his or her human rights and fundamental freedom, the full exercise of the rights stated in the measure, and the fulfillment of the obligations by public authorities as enshrined in the preceding article.
The Committee on Laws and Human Rights shall submit every 6 months a report duly reviewed and approved by the local legislative body to the CHR regional field office on the status of the implementation of the measure as well as international treaty obligations, national laws, ordinances, and regulations concerned with the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedom, provided, that the independent validation of the report by the CHR shall not be hindered or impeded in any way.
Any person who commits any violation of the pertinent provisions of the ordinance shall be penalized with a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, a fine of P20,000 for the second offense and a fine of P30,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.