Legalese 2009 (Week 50)


Commission on Human Rights – a government office created by the Constitution with the primary function of investigating violation of human rights.


Section 18. The Commission on Human Rights shall have the following powers and functions:

(1) Investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights;

(2) Adopt its operational guidelines and rules of procedure, and cite for contempt for violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of Court;

(3) Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the under-privileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection;

(4) Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities;

(5) Establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights;

(6) Recommend to Congress effective measures to promote human rights and to provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families;

(7) Monitor the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights;

(8) Grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth in any investigation conducted by it or under its authority;

(9) Request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or agency in the performance of its functions;

(10) Appoint its officers and employees in accordance with law; and

(11) Perform such other duties and functions as may be provided by law.  (Constitution, Art. XIII)


The CHR has no adjudicatory power. Having merely the power to investigate, it cannot try and decide cases on the merits. It cannot do so even if there is a claim of transgression of civil or political rights. (2 Philippine Constitutional Law: Principles and Cases, p. 1024 [2004]).


Does the CHR have jurisdiction to investigate the demolition of stalls and shanties along EDSA?