Human Rights

(The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines)

Section 17
  1. There is hereby created an independent office called Commission on Human Rights.
  2. The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four Members who must be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and a majority of whom shall be members of the Bar.  The term of office and other qualifications and disabilities of the Members of the Commission shall be provided by law.
  3. Until this Commission is constituted, the existing Presidential Committee on Human Rights shall continue to exercise its present functions and powers.
  4. The approved annual appropriations of the Commission shall be automatically and regularly released.
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 underprivileged 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, ad information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights;
  6. Recommend to the 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.
Section 19

The Congress may provide for other cases of violations of human rights that should fall within the authority of the Commission, taking into account its recommendations.