Palace defends Duterte veto of HRI creation

Pia Lee-Brago, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Palace defends Duterte veto of HRI creation
President Rodrigo Duterte virtually addresses the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on September 22, 2020, in New York.
Presidential Communications Operations Office

MANILA, Philippines — The establishment of the Human Rights Institute is better pursued through a separate bill, Malacañang said yesterday as it defended President Duterte’s decision to veto the budget allocation for the creation of the HRI.

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the inclusion of an item in the national budget assumes that the project is ready and has complete cost estimates and details on manpower requirements.

The budget department also checks the utilization of funds of an agency and whether the item was requested in the first place, Nograles said.

“But if it is inserted in the budget… if it is deemed a rider, then we do not want riders in the budget... as with any law, riders are prohibited. So it’s much better if they pursue legislation separately from a national budget,” he said at a press briefing.

“If they want to pursue legislation, then let them do so,” he added.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lamented the President’s veto of a provision in the P5.024-trillion national budget for the creation of the HRI.

In a statement, CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said the item appropriation is for the discharge of the agency’s constitutional mandate.

She said the HRI is a flagship project of the commission, which was launched during the 2021 Human Rights Day.

President Duterte has vetoed the creation of the proposed HRI, saying there was no specific appropriation provided for the item.

The CHR said the budget would have established a continuing program of human rights research, education and information.

The agency said the institute would not cause an additional burden to the government because it would be funded by its existing resources.

Despite the veto, the CHR vowed to continue educating the people about the need to promote human rights.

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