Hope remains for P678-M CHR budget

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2017 10:14 AM

Commission on Human Rights chair Chito Gascon present during the Senate probe on the death of teen Kian Loyd Delos Santos, at the Philippine Senate on August 25, 2017. Senators are probing the death of the 17-year-old Delos Santos during an illegal drug operations, after witnesses emerged contradicting reports submitted by the Caloocan police. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights may still get its P678 million budget even after congressmen voted to give the constitutional body a mere P1,000 budget, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Wednesday.

The Senate finance committee, which Lacson chairs, approved Monday a P678-million CHR budget for 2018, which includes a P28.565-million budget for the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission.

A total of 119 lawmakers however voted Tuesday to give a budget of P1,000 to the commission that has repeatedly criticized the government's war on drugs. Only 32 lawmakers objected to the budget.

The budget will be forwarded to the Senate plenary for another round of deliberations, Lacson said.

If the 2 houses of Congress have different versions of the proposed budget, these will be reconciled through a bicameral conference committee consisting of representatives from the House and Senate.

A mix of majority and minority senators have expressed support for the Senate's version of the CHR budget, Lacson said.

"I trust na magko-cross ng party lines. Kasi iyung base sa ating naririnig sa ating mga kasamahan sa majority block, mukhang may numero para masuportahan ito. Isama mo pa doon iyung 4 o 5 na nasa minority," he told DZMM.

"Sa tingin ko ito makakapasa sa plenaryo sa Senado at pag-uusapan na lang sa bicameral conference committee."

Senator Francis Pangilinan has vowed to oppose the lower house's approved budget, which he dubbed as "folly."

 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian meanwhile said slashing CHR's budget would effectively abolish the body, in clear violation of the Constitution.

"The Commission serves as an important check and balance to ensure that government officials exercise their functions with due respect for the constitutional rights of the people," Gatchalian wrote on Twitter.

"The Senate should make sure the CHR receives the budget it needs to fulfill its constitutionally mandated functions next year."

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the budget passed by congressmen reflects the value they put on human rights.

"Talagang lalalim yung pakiramdam natin na so ganiyan na lang ka-mura ang tingin ng House sa karapatang pantao natin. Sa gitna ng kaliwa’t kanang patayan, ito pa ang gagawin ng House," Hontiveros told ANC.

She vowed to "butt heads if necessary" with solons at the bicameral conference to augment the CHR budget.