BARANGAY HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION CENTER (BHRAC)
The Barangay Human Rights Action Center Program (BHRAC is a nationwide mobilization program for human rights protection and advocacy at the Barangay level. It has been conceived so that the CHRP will be within the reach of the people, especially in the far flung areas. The Commission on Human Rights Regional Officers/sub-regional offices are based mainly in the regional centers and capitals of provinces.
The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), in pursuance of its Constitutional mandate of enhancing the primacy of respect for human rights through a continuing program of education, information and research has conceptualized the Human Rights Education and Training Program (HRETP). The HRETP is deisgned to be the mother program of all human rights education plan for different sectors of the society. The HRETP is also designed to create a human rights link with the other sectors of the society in terms of assisting the Commission in organizing HR training programs. Its implementation with the police and the military sector was certainly a success. Later, it was realized that the Local Government Units ( LGUs ) sector is a vast, untapped partner in human rights promotion and protection. But plans for the LGUs were certainly much bigger and better because the Commission believe that the barangays can achieve much more themselves in the field of human rights. Institutionalizing human rights at the grassroots level is a better way of promoting human rights but that they should be empowered first.
In order to institutionalize human rights in this sector, formal coordination efforts were made with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). In 1994, the CHRP conceptualized a program that will empower the people in the grassroots in promoting and protecting human rights and at the same time bring the services of the Commission closer to the people thus the Barangay Human Rights Action Center (BRHAC) program, a mechanism which will institutionalize HR in in the LGUs . The DILG through the CHR issued Memorandum Circular No. 94-194 dated October 27, 1994 enjoining all local government units through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in December, 1996. Series of MOA followed and the latest was the MOA between and among the CHR and various Leagues signed last December 10, 2001.
The Barangay Human Rights Action Center is a program which aims to give to the ordinary citizen the central role in the implementation of human rights promotion and protection services at the grassroots and at the same time bringing the services of the Commission closer to the people especially to those areas not strategically within the reach of the CHRP’s central, regional and sub-regional offices.
In the establishment of BHRACs , the Local Government Operations Office (LGOO), Planning and Development Coordinators ( PDCs ), the DILG and the CHR team shall orient the Local Executives on the BHRAC Program and urge them to establish and support the BHRAC in their areas of jurisdiction. The BHRAC is established through a barangay resolution.
The BHRAC shall be manned by a Barangay Human Rights Action Officer (BHRAO) who shall oversee the center’s operations. The BHRAO shall be chosen through viva voce voting by a majority of those present in the barangay assembly meeting called solely for the purpose of nominating and electing candidates. The BHRAO must not be an elective/appointive official of the government and mus not engage in partisan political activities. The BHRAO is also required to undergo capability building/training for BHRAOs .
The BHRAC has four functions/Services namely:
- Complaints Processing – the BHRAO is primarily (at the very least) tasked to receive complaints of “alleged” human rights violations and refer the same to the nearest CHRP regional or sub-office for investigation.
- Coordination and Referral – in the event the case received by the BHRAO is not a case of human rights violation, the BHRAO refers the case to the proper government or non-governmental agencies or organizations for action and monitors the progress of the same.
- Mobilization – he/she mobilizes the community to take effective social action for the protection and promotion of their rights. He/she is tasked to mobilize community for the mobile education and develop human rights advocates within the barangay .
- Information and Education – The BHRAO is tasked to coordinate with the CHRP Regional offices in conducting for a, seminars, training, symposia and other human rights information and education activities.
As of the year 2002, there are a total of 14, 408 established all over the country.
The Barangay Human Rights Action Officers have formed an and associations of Regional Barangay Human Rights Action Officers (RABHRAO) and the association National Barangay Human Rights Action Officers (NABRHAO) which have been registered with the Security and Exchange Commission.
The BHRAC Program Management Committee is composed of the following:
Chairperson Purificacion V. Quisumbing
Commissioner Dominador N. Calamba II
Commissioner Eligio P. Mallari
Commissioner Wilhelm D. Soriano
Commissioner Quintin Cueto III
Executive Director Jacqueline V. Mejia
Commission Secretary Homero V. Rusiana
National BHRAC Secretariat:
Ellen G. Julian – Division Chief, GPD
Martha Tanada-Crisostomo - Program Officer IV
Hubert V. Ruiz – Program Officer III
Vicenta Rosales Basilio – Program Officer III
Joy E. Estrada – Program Officer II