TACLOBAN CITY– Human rights organizations have assailed the new “super body” created by the national government that is supposed to further champion human rights protection in the Philippines.

“The criticism against the ‘super body’ – that it is window-dressing, superfluous, unnecessary, etc. – has basis. The Philippine government does not need another agency on human rights, especially an agency that will only serve a propaganda purpose for the administration,” Carlos Conde, senior researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, told Leyte Samar Daily Express via online interview on Monday(May 13).

“The ‘special committee’ is not only composed of people and agencies that have no proven track record on human rights – some of them were responsible in one way or another for the rights abuses in the Philippines in recent years,” he added.

He maintained that the Special Committee on Human Rights Coordination is “designed to mislead the public and the international community about the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

This sentiment was also shared by Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan.

“Touted as a new mechanism that comes after the UN Joint Program on human rights in the Philippines, Marcos Jr.’s human rights coordinating council is viewed as a tactic to evade accountability for the human rights violations committed during the previous and the current regimes,” she said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the creation of the said special committee to carry out Administrative Order No. 22 to “enhance [government] mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines.”

The super body will also be in charge of “sustaining initiatives and accomplishments of the United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, and policy-making.”

Signed on May 8 by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Administrative Order 22 emphasized the formation of the special committee chaired by the Executive Secretary and co-chaired by the Department of Justice Secretary with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretaries as members.
The order will take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette, or a newspaper of general circulation.