MANILA, Philippines — Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III pledged to push for a Human Rights Project Management Office (PMO) under the DILG in a press conference held on Monday, May 15.
The briefer was held to provide the highlights of the Philippine delegation's visit to the recent Universal Periodic Review held in Geneva, Switzerland and to reiterate the DILG's commitment thereafter.
According to Densing, the Human Rights PMO aims to remedy the fear of witnesses who are afraid to testify against vigilantes and police alleged to be behind drug-related killings by being an open agency separate to the Philippine National Police to receive complaints and reports. (Read: Manila Police to 'killer' cop witnesses: Stand by your claims)
“[The human rights PMO will be instated] to address the issue of the poeple who have second thoughts reporting to the police because they might be involved in the crime itself,” Densing said.
Aside from receiving complaints, Densing said that the PMO will seek to uphold human rights not only through the Philippine National Police, which is under the DILG, but all agencies under them including local government units “from the president…to the barangay tanod.”
Asked about its cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), he explained that while the CHR is in charge of investigation on "potential human rights violations”, he said the pitched PMO will promote human rights "within the whole bureaucracy.” (Read: CHR says no 'definite conclusion' yet on extrajudicial killings)
He said that he already recommended the Human Rights PMO back in December 2016. He committed to recommending it again when the succeeding DILG secretary and retiring Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Año assumes his post. - Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.