MANILA - An official of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) clarified that their mandate is to help victims of government abuses, and not the victims of ordinary and individual crimes, which is the job of the police.
CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento said given the immense power of the state under the 1987 Constitution, it is the Bill of Human Rights, which is their bible, that protects ordinary people from government abuses.
"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.
(If you're killed by your neighbor, that's a police matter. If it's the police or other security sector who commits the abuse, you run to the human rights commission.)
The House of Representatives recently voted to cut the budget of the CHR to P1,000 as some lawmakers criticized the Constitutional body for being too vocal on the government's war on drugs but not on the victims of crimes.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III even went as far as telling CHR Chairman Chito Gascon to resign if he cannot support President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
"Ano gusto nilang gawin, mananahimik lang kami kahit maraming namamatay?" noted Armamento.
(What do they want us to do, remain silent amid the killings?)
She said it is clear that the police manual says cops should only shoot to disable and not kill a suspect who resists arrest.
1SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta also criticized the CHR for not being concerned when US-based publication New York Times published an editorial calling President Rodrigo Duterte "a man who must be stopped."
"Nakakalungkot na ang isang mambabatas ay hindi alam ang Konstitusyon," said Armamento. "Ang basic concept ng human rights is... It is the body that implements the Bill of Rights."
(It's sad that a lawmaker does not understand the Constitution.)
While the House approved only P1,000 for the CHR, the Senate finance committee approved P678 million budget for the commission in 2018.
The CHR still hoping to get its budget when lawmakers meet at the Bicameral Conference Committee.