The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Protection Bill, which seeks to prevent human rights violations and abuses perpetrated against HRDs.

House Bill No. 9199, which was approved with a vote of 183-0, guarantees HRD rights and freedoms; mandates the State and public authorities to respect, protect, and fulfill these rights and freedoms; and imposes appropriate sanctions to counter impunity.

HB 9199 is based on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Model National Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders drafted by the International Service for Human Rights.

Should it be signed into law, the bill will also create a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee that will be chaired by a commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and six members who will be jointly nominated by concerned civil society organizations.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, the bill’s principal author, lauded the approval of the proposed measure.

“It is high time that we accord stronger legal protection to those who defend not only their own human rights and fundamental freedoms but those of others as well,” he said.

Lagman said he and his fellow authors of the bill are hoping that the bill’s Senate counterpart can also be approved before the 17th Congress adjourns sine die on Tuesday. (PNA)