Human Rights Defenders Protection (HRDP) Bill Salient Points

House Bill 77 or “An Act Defining the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Human Rights Defenders,  Declaring State Responsibilities, and Instituting Effective Mechanisms for the Protection and Promotion of these Rights and Freedoms” 

Authored by: Rep. Edcel C. Lagman 

On 28 February 2023, House Committee on Human Rights approved Rep. Edcel Lagman’s HB 77 as substitute bill for similar proposals, including Makabayan bloc’s HB 256 and 2484 which have identical subjects. The proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection (HRDP) Act is closely patterned from the ‘Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders’ developed by the International Service for Human Rights and endorsed by 28 high-level experts. 

It was reinitiated on 30 June 2022 after mirror House Bill 10576 seeking to institute protection mechanisms for HRDs was precluded from being signed into law due to time constraints, despite having been approved up to the third and final reading by the House of Representatives with zero negative votes and abstentions. A Senate counterpart measure filed by Leila De Lima in 2019 is still pending committee approval as of late. 

In essence, the Bill aims to strengthen the legal framework of human rights defense through the recognition of its lawful occupation, profession, and activities, thereby emphasizing the obligations of the State in protecting and fulfilling the rights and freedoms attached to it.