Rights body assures
dialogue with President Arroyo on signing torture law
HONG KONG – The
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcomes the assurance given by
the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the
Philippines (CHR) that she would initiate "direct communication" with
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the signing of the law on
In her September 22
email to Basil Fernando, executive director for the AHRC, Commissioner
Leila De Lima, assured him of "our institution's (CHR) continued and relentless efforts, including the
undersigned's direct communication to the President, for the immediate
realization of the anti-torture law".
De Lima's email was
received five days after Fernando wrote her a letter [read
asking her to initiate a direct dialogue with President Macapagal-Arroyo
in explaining the importance of having domestic legislation on torture
Fernando wrote that
"The CHR, as an independent body, would have had enormous weight in
terms of influencing policy made on the part of the executive branch".
The AHRC's appeal was
made after unconfirmed reports about the possibility that the proposed
legislation might be "vetoed" due to the exclusion of non-state actors
The Office of the
President (OP), however, has so far not made any official announcement
about the reports of a "possible veto by the President of the bill".
However, the CHR, also
express concern over the delays in the signing of domestic legislation
by the President, a month after the Senate and the House of
Representatives have ratified the final version of the bill. The
ratified bill has also not been transmitted to the President's office
for her signature.
Under the Philippines
legislative procedure, the President could only act either signing or
vetoing the proposed legislation once it received the ratified bill.
Once the bill is received by the President's office, she would have 30
days to act on it.
"We share your
advocacy for the immediate signing of the long overdue and much needed
anti-torture law. Like you, we are deeply concerned about the rumoured
possible veto by the President of the bill, reportedly due to the
exclusion of NSAs (non state actors) from its coverage," wrote De
In addition to the
CHR's assurance, the AHRC is also encouraging torture victims, their
families and the non-governmental organisations inside and outside the
Philippines, to continuously put pressure, particularly on the
executive branch asking for the immediate signing of this bill into
Torture victims and
their families are encourage to write petitions and appeals letters
addressed directly to President Macapagal-Arroyo to act on the measure