MANILA (UPDATE) - For Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the message of the P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights is clear: the government agency is not doing its job.
Speaking to DZMM Thursday, Alvarez said the CHR is focusing on protecting the human rights of criminals while ignoring the needs of innocent victims of various crimes.
"Kailangan nilang protektahan at pangalagaan ang karapatang pantao ng sinuman, di lang isang sektor, di lang sa karapatang pantao ng mga kriminal, pati ang innocent victims," he said.
"Kumikibo lang sila kapag against the military, against the police, against government officials. Hindi naman ganun ang mandato nila. Ang mandato nila ay lahat ng karapatang pantao ay protektahan nila at pangalagaan."
Alvarez said the P1,000 budget for the CHR is not about weakening the government agency but more about its accountability to the people.
"Ano na ba ang programa nila sa mga innocent victims, 'yung mga namasaker na pamilya? Bakit nananahimik sila? Maute, Marawi, kumibo ba ang CHR? Wala," he said.
"Nagrereklamo sila wala na raw silang magagawa sa P1,000 budget. E talaga namang wala silang ginagawa e... Bakit pa tayo magsasayang ng pera ng gobyerno diyan?" he added.
Asked about a possible deadlock over the CHR budget, Alvarez said the House will need to talk to members of the Senate.
"Puwede po kaming mag-usap dun pero hindi pupwede na kung ano ang gusto nila, yun ang susundin namin," he said.
CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento, meanwhile, said the CHR is supposed to investigate abuses committed by those in authority.
"Kung ang kapitbahay mo ang pumatay sa 'yo, police matter 'yan. Kapag umabuso na ang pulis or other security sectors, kanino ka tatakbo? Tatakbo sa human rights commission," Armamento told DZMM Tuesday.
CHR Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana also noted that the police are the first responders in crimes. If the police are not doing their job, that's when the CHR comes in to help the victims.
"Kung may pagkukulang ang pulis sa dapat niyang gawin, doon papasok ang human rights. Di puwedeng kami ay maging pulis din," she said.
She denied that the CHR is a member of the opposition but a partner of other government agencies to efficiently deliver services to the public, as mandated by the Constitution.
NO POLITICKING BUT...
In the interview, Alvarez denied he is politicking against CHR Chairman Chito Gascon but noted the chairman seems to be protecting the rights of Liberal Party members.
"Tabingi talaga utak niyan e. Paanong pinopolitika? Magpakita muna siya ng trabaho niya," he said.
Alvarez said Gascon, the Liberal Party's director general from 2008 to 2011, has been showing his biases in his actions as CHR chairperson.
He mentioned how Gascon was able to visit in detention Senator Leila de Lima, a Liberal Party member, but was not able to visit other prisoners whose human rights may have also been violated.
"Tinanong ko, 'dumalaw ka ba sa ibang nakakulong?' Hindi daw kasi wala na siyang oras at may ibang commissioners namang puwedeng gumawa noon," he recalled.
"Sino ba ang namomolitika dito? Malinaw na malinaw, dating chairman ata ng Liberal Party nung araw. Karapatang pantao lang ng mga Liberal ang pinangangalagaan niya," he added.
Commissioner Gana, for her part, said the CHR chairperson deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt as he tries to do his job objectively.
"Bigyan na lang natin ng benefit of the doubt si Chairman kasi 5 naman kami at iba-iba ang background namin... It's the way you're acting that will make people realize if you're doing you're job or nor," she said.