Statement of the Commission on Human Rights expressing its concern on a barangay ordinance in Abra that proposed the death penalty for illegal garbage dumping


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses deep concern over a barangay ordinance in Abra that proposed the death penalty for a third offense of illegal garbage dumping. This ordinance not only represents a severe disregard for human rights but also trivializes the most fundamental right of all–the right to life.

According to reports, six barangay officials, including one barangay chairperson, four barangay councilors or kagawad, and one Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairperson, were suspended from their positions after passing an ordinance penalizing garbage dumping with P1,000 for the first offense, P1,000 and eight hours of community service for the second offense, and “getting shot” for the third offense.

While we recognise the importance of proper waste management and ordinances that will improve residents’ waste disposal practices within their communities, such cruel directives and offenses does not address the problem, instead, it only perpetuates confusion, perplexity, and distress among the constituents. These heinous remarks have not only caused social unrest but also posed a direct threat to the right to life. The Commission urges everyone, particularly local leaders and people in power, to refrain from making light of such sensitive topics. The right to life is a fundamental human right that must be respected and protected at all times.

Moreover, ordinances serve as crucial guidelines for local communities and barangays, in providing a framework for governance and the enforcement of laws. It is important to reiterate that the death penalty is prohibited under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and its reimposition was officially abolished in 2006. Such ordinances must align with national laws and respect fundamental human rights, ensuring that they do not overstep legal and ethical boundaries.

We reaffirm our stance against capital punishment. The CHR has similarly stressed the aforementioned concerns, notwithstanding our legal obligations to uphold the right to life as mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution and our obligation to uphold the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which completely and perpetually banned the imposition of the death penalty in the country.

In line with this, we acknowledge the swift action taken by Bangued town Mayor Mila Valera to hold the involved barangay officials accountable. Local leaders are responsible for serving the immediate interests of their constituents. Above all, they should embody the morals and values of leadership, particularly in respecting everyone’s rights.

The CHR is firm in our resolve to defend the sanctity of human life. We invite everyone to continue to understand the different facets and counterproductive effects of death penalty. It is crucial to recognize that such extreme measures not only undermine human dignity but also fail to address the root causes of crime, often leading to further social injustice and inequality.

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