MANILA - Reducing the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to a meager P1,000 shows a disregard for the country's Constitution and poses a threat to democracy, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
"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 in a statement.
(The effect of this decision is similar to demolishing the CHR. This signals a lack of respect for the Constitution and human rights--both threats to the democracy.)
Robredo said the budget cut was bothersome, given the widespread killings and alleged human rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal drug war.
"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," she said.
(Given the widespread violence and killings, it is worrying that the main agency tasked to protect human rights is being crippled.)
The vice president hopes the CHR will be given a higher budget since the House and the Senate still need to reconcile their versions of the proposed national budget later this year.
"Itinakda ng ating Saligang Batas na dapat manatiling prayoridad ang pagprotekta sa karapatang pantao, lalo na ng mahihirap at walang kapangyarihan. Katungkulan nating pagtibayin ang prinsipyong ito, alang-alang sa kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino," she said.
(Our Constitution states that protecting human rights, especially those of the poor and marginalized should be prioritized. It is our responsibility to uphold this for the sake of each Filipino.)
On Tuesday, CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said life goes on for the CHR since the budget bill still has to go through the Senate and the bicameral conference committee before it is signed by the President.
"The commission will continue to operate so long as the Constitution operates. Despite this defeat in the House, we look forward to defending our budget in the Senate and we hope that reason...will prevail both at the Senate as well as in the bicameral conference committee," he said.