The University Training Center (UTC) catered interested students in a one of a kind community-based dialogue regarding death penalty conducted by the Regional Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last February 10, 2017.
The day started with a registration wherein pamphlets about human rights were distributed among the participants. An opening program shortly followed as the Students Services and Development (SSD) Director, Professor Henedine A. Aguinaldo welcomed everyone with her speech, emphasizing that MMSU became an awardee because it served as a human rights advocate under the leadership of Dr. Marivic M. Alimbuyuguen. Prof. Aguinaldo also encouraged students to play an active role in participating during the discussion. A roll call of participating students from five of the different university campuses in Batac commenced after.
The first speaker, Attorney Harold C. Cobraon the Regional CHR Director gave bits of information about relative current events that are extremely relevant to death penalty. He expounded on the human’s right to life as basis of what the CHR fights for: the strong opposition of death penalty. He also gave the grounds for death penalty such as committing heinous like violating the anti-dangerous drug law. He also shared during his speech that plunder and bribery are removed as crimes punishable by death. Cobraon also pointed out that an effective law enforcement, impartial access to redress mechanism and courts and a responsive penal system is how justice can be attained. Furthermore, in his presentation alternatives of death penalty were suggested such as developing a credible justice, focusing on strengthening methods on crime investigation, honing the skills of the police and investigators and a better training for prosecutors.
Mr. Danilo T. Balino was the second speaker of the day as he shared all about what Community Based Dialogues (CBD) really meant. Based from the human rights itself, his talk focused on the right of one person to express his beliefs, ideas and feelings. Balino also differentiated debate and dialogue pointing out that dialogues are collaborative while debates are a type of fight. He also highlighted the history of CBDs wherein it started on October 21, 2008 between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). CHR had the fundamental missions of conducting community-based dialogues annually and the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights.
After both speeches concluded the speakers entertained questions from the students during the open forum. Things got a little bit intense as debaters, a member of the press and a member of the legal counsel raised their opinions and brilliant questions.
One of the main goals of CHR was to get the youth more involved by looking at universities, colleges and schools against death penalty. According to Atty. Harold Cobraon, the advantage of conducting community-based dialogues is to raise student’s public awareness of current issues especially those that concerns the community and everyone who are involved.
Furthermore, Cobraon said that the activity wasn’t a propaganda and CHR still respected the fact that everyone who attended the talk was entitled to their own opinion, “It is actually a way to gather the sentiments and ideas of the participants but not to necessarily force or convince the participants to adapt an anti-death penalty opposition. It is still their choice after the dialogue whether they are supporting or against death penalty.
The dialogue ended well as students became more informed and more courageous in shaping their own stand, believing in their own choice and they had definitely raised their level of consciousness and participation towards issues that impact the nation. //