FALSE: No punishment for rapists in PH because they're ‘protected by CHR’

Claim: A photo posted on Facebook group I LOVE PHILIPPINES compared the Philippines’ punishment for rapists to other countries, showing that the country does not punish rapists because they are “protected by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).”

Five other countries were included in the photo: Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, United Arab Emirates, and Afghanistan. The photo showed the stark contrast between the Philippines and these 5 countries, which all impose the death penalty for rapists.

The post got over 350 engagements on Facebook as of writing and was shared with the group’s 145,839 members as of December 10. It was flagged by Facebook Claim Check, the social media company’s tool that identifies potentially dubious posts spread across the platform.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Republic Act No. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 states that rape is punishable by law, ranging from 6 years imprisonment to reclusion perpetua, depending on the degree of the crime. Moreover, the CHR’s mandate is to protect human rights, not criminals.

RA 8353 was passed in 1997 and had death penalty included in the list of punishments. However, when capital punishment was repealed in 2006, the death penalty was replaced with reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment through RA No. 9346.

The CHR's job is to investigate violations carried out by state agents or private entities that act upon the instruction of government authorities, including private armies, especially if done against the marginalized sectors. (READ: Hate human rights? They protect freedoms you enjoy)

This means that as a constitutional body, the CHR has to guarantee that the government upholds human rights in the country and that they don't violate the people’s rights, even in punishing criminals. Although the CHR may examine cases on its own or through the complaints filed with them, the Commission can’t prosecute because it is beyond their powers. (READ: Accountability and human rights: The role of the CHR)

Many confuse the CHR’s function and hit them for not acting on cases involving victims of murders, rape, and other heinous crimes, but it is not their mandate in the first place. Even Senator Christopher "Bong" Go still wrongly thinks the Commission protects only criminals, as evident during the plenary deliberations on the CHR's budget for 2020. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

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