CHR risks zero budget for supporting abortion

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
CHR risks zero budget for supporting abortion
A statue of a fetus.
Pixabay / hhach

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Philippines being a secular state, the Commission on Human Rights may receive a “zero budget” next year after four male senators questioned the CHR’s position supporting a bill that decriminalizes abortion in the Philippines.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano brought to the Senate’s attention CHR’s position previously echoed by its executive director, Jacqueline de Guia, during plenary deliberations into the CHR’s 2024 budget on Nov. 14.

Cayetano, who described himself as a Christian, expressed concern at the CHR’s stance condoning abortion despite Church teachings that it is a “mortal sin.”

He also referred to a provision in the 1987 Constitution, which states that the state should “protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

An estimated 1.26 million Filipino women – including rape survivors – had induced abortion in 2020 despite a lack of access to safe abortion, according to the Philippine Safe Abortion Advocacy Network.

Three women die of complications from unsafe abortions daily.

The Philippines has the world’s most restrictive laws against abortion, despite recommendations from the UN Human Rights Committee to decriminalize abortion for the sake of rape and incest victims and for women whose health is at risk due to their pregnancies.

Even CHR’s budget sponsor Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said that he, as a devout Catholic, could not support the CHR’s budget anymore over its statement.

In a press briefing yesterday, Estrada said the CHR risks having a zero budget if it does not retract its support for abortion.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva joined the chorus of their fellow male senators in opposing the bill that would have accorded women, especially rape victims, the right to their bodies and exemption from criminal liability.

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