The @CHRgovPh is presently a legal fiction, has no legal basis even to call itself a Commission


Yen Makabenta, whom I respect being one of our best columnists, claims the CHR is in "suspended animation" because of lack of an enabling law to legitimize it. Like so many people, I had assumed the CHR had a legal basis. So I went back to the 1987 Constitution which was ratified by plebiscite on Feb.2, 1987.

Article IX of the 1987 Constitution created three constitutional commissions: the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit.

Article XIII Sec.1 states that "Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity..."

Sec.17 states "There is hereby created an independent office called the Commission on Human Rights. Until this Commission is constituted, the existing Presidential Committee on Human Rights (located in the Office of the President) shall continue to exercise its present functions and powers."

What Sec.17 means is that the Commission on Human Rights will have to be constituted. Before that, it continues as a presidential committee in the Office of the President. Now who is given the power to constitute the Commission? Go back to Sec.1 of Article XIII. It is Congress that has to enact the measure. Did Congress enact a measure? No. It did not enact an enabling law to create a Commission. Therefore, there is no Commission on Human Rights but a presidential committee. Can the president create the Commission? No, it's very clear it is only Congress that can only do it.

Therefore, Yen Makabenta raised a valid legal point in his column. The CHR is presently a legal fiction. It has no legal basis even to call itself a Commission. It remains as a presidential committee.

Having no legal basis, Congress must first pass a law to create a Commission before it can appropriate a budget to it. Being a presidential committee under OP, any appropriation for human rights must be made to OP. Congress cannot appropriate a budget to an entity which calls itself CHR because CHR does not exist. It is a legal fiction.

Being a legal fiction, all appointees who claim to be CHR appointees can be prosecuted as usurpers of public office. Being a presidential committee, appointees to it serve at the pleasure of the president and can be fired by him at any time.

If Congress appropriates a budget to a non-legal entity its members can be charged with violating the Constitution which they swore to uphold. If the president signs an Appropriations bill into law that contains a budget for a non-existing entity, he, too, will be culpable under the Constitution.

The previous president Noynoy Aquino can be charged with negligence in approving previous budgets for a non-existent CHR. Ignorance of the law excuseth no one, says the Civil Code.

This is what happens when nobody follows or is ignorant of the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land.

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Jose Alejandrino as posted by Rafael Alunan III on Facebook.


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