Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — Senator Bato dela Rosa suggested on Monday that the Commission on Human Rights also recruit lawyers who are pro-military and pro-police.
The senator made the suggestion at a hearing on the CHR’s budget, explaining that human rights cases would be easier to investigate if the lawyer involved had police or military ties.
As an example, he cited the late Region 11 CHR Director Dominador Calamba who was both a human rights officer and a military reservist.
“He was very effective kasi ‘pag may na-commit na human rights violation ang military sa Region 11… he could just get inside the camp and conduct an investigation kasi reserve officer siya. Very effective mandate as human rights officer,” Dela Rosa pointed out.
At present, the CHR has 165 unfilled positions for lawyers and investigators.
CHR Chairman Chito Gascon pointed out that the agency’s recruitment process is based on merits, not affiliations.
“We wish to reassure you in our selection and promotion process, no political affiliation is ever considered. We just focus on the qualification standard,” Gascon said.
CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia also explained that vacancies in the agency were the result of low incentives for lawyers’ positions in the regional offices.
She said those interested in government positions preferred to apply in the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman, or the Public Attorney’s Office.
To address the problem of low pay, de Guia said the agency has been prioritizing promotions to raise the salary grade and benefits of CHR lawyers and investigators.
“It’s very difficult to attract lawyers especially in the regions given the fact that we have low salary grade positions and very minimal, if not nothing, in terms of allowances granted to lawyers. Therefore, it is not a lucrative profession for lawyers to be employed in the commission,” she explained.
The Senate finance committee approved CHR’s ₱860 million budget for 2021 on Tuesday. It will now be up for discussion in the plenary.