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Robredo: P1K CHR budget disrespects Constitution, human rights

Vice President Leni Robredo slams the Lower House for giving the Commission on Human Rights a measly P1,000 budget for 2018. She says the move disrespects the Constitution and the Filipinos' human rights. Office of the Vice President/Released, File  

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday slammed the House of Representatives for approving a measly P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights, saying the move is like virtually abolishing the agency.

This move of the Lower House disrespects the Constitution and the Filipinos’ human rights, Robredo noted.

“Tila pagbuwag sa CHR ang magiging epekto ng desisyong ito. Nagbabadya ito ng kawalan ng respeto sa ating Saligang Batas at sa karapatang pantao—parehong banta sa demokrasya,” she said.

She added: “Lalo sa konteksto kung saan laganap ang karahasan at patayan, tunay na nakababahala ang mensaheng ibinibigay ng pagpilay sa mismong ahensyang dapat nagpapatibay ng ating mga karapatan.”

READHouse gives CHR a P1,000 budget

A total of 119 lawmakers on Tuesday voted to allocate only P1,000 to the commission mandated to protect the rights of the people from abuse by the government, especially by the police and military.

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Only 32 solons voted against the motion of 1-SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta’s motion to slash CHR’s 2018 budget drastically from the proposed P678 million funding.

“Ang pagkakaroon ng CHR ang isa sa mga mahalagang pansalag laban sa pagbabalik ng rehimeng mapang-abuso sa ating bayan. Ito rin ang pundasyon ng pagtataguyod sa dignidad at karapatan ng bawat Pilipino,” Robredo said.

The vice president remains hopeful that the CHR will receive a decent budget as the deliberations move to the Senate.

“Hindi pa tapos ang deliberasyon. Umaasa tayong mananaig ang nararapat sa ipapasang badyet. Sabay-sabay tayong maging mapagmatyag sa magaganap na proseso,” she said.

Should the two houses have different versions of the proposed budget, these will have to be reconciled through a bicameral conference committee.

READ: Senators promise to fight to restore CHR budget

Senators vowed to restore, if not augment the agency’s budget, following the budget cut from Lower House.

On Monday, a Senate panel approved the CHR's proposed budget of P678 million. The proposed CHR budget is 9.5 percent lower than last year's P749 million.

‘Reprehensible and unconscionable’

International rights activists also slammed the budget cut.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard on Tuesday called the Lower House’s move “reprehensible and unconscionable.”



Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine also said it would deal a blow against the accountability for human rights violations in the country.

“The vote by an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives is part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses, particularly in the context of the brutal drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands, including dozens of children,” Kine said.

READ: 'Minuscule, embarrassing, unconstitutional': 32 solons oppose P1,000 CHR budget

He said that while the commission’s performance might not have satisfied many Filipinos, its mandate is vital to combating human rights abuses.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez defended the decision, saying the measly funding is appropriate considering that CHR had been useless and interested only in protecting criminals, a common argument used against the commission by Duterte allies in government and on social media.

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