Lorenzana favors full CHR budget, says it makes AFP, PNP ‘careful’

Camille Elemia
Lorenzana favors full CHR budget, says it makes AFP, PNP ‘careful’
'Oo naman [I support]. For one, it makes the government especially the military and police... yung ingat sila sa ginagawa nila,' says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the Commission on Human Rights

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday, September 14, opposed the House of Representatives’ grant of a measly P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018.

Lorenzana said the CHR deserves a full funding as it is a constitutional body.

“I hope we will reconsider… unless i-abolish yan, you have to support (unless it is abolished, you have to support it). Kasi it’s a constitutional body. Nasa batas yan. Nasa Constitution pa yan e. Dahil nandyan yan, it’s just right that there will also be funding,” Lorenzana told reporters after the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense.

This is a stark contrast to the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies, who have pushed for the abolition of the agency. Lorenzana also earlier supported Duterte’s call, saying the military and police already took oath to protect the 1987 Constitution, including the bill of rights.

Now, Lorenzana said the CHR should not be abolished, at least “not immediately” because it makes the military and the police cautious in their actions.

“No no, not immediately siguro (maybe),” Lorenzana said.

Oo naman [I support]. For one, it makes the government especially the military and police, ano ba, ‘yung ingat sila sa ginagawa nila because the rights of another person, liable sila sa human rights violation.” Lorenzana said.

(Of course I support. For one, it makes the government especially the military and the police cautious in their actions because it involves the rights of another person, they will be liable for human rights violation.)

The military has been accused of violating human rights amid the declaration of martial law over Mindanao but has denied allegations.

CHR-AFP good ties?

Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the CHR have long had good ties. In fact, the DND chief said he had a “very healthy” relationship with the constitutional office when he was a commander on the ground.

“When I was the commander, I had a very healthy relationship sa CHR sa region. Iniimbita ko yan pag may (I invite them during) lectures because people should be taught what is human rights. There’s a human rights officer in every unit of the AFP down to the company battalion,” he said.,

“Kung titignan mo ang record namin, very few lang ang human rights violation sa military. Pero meron nagvviolate, nagkakaroon ng kaso,” he said. (If you look at our record, the military only has few human rights violations. But there are some who violate, there are now cases filed.)

The CHR, which has repeatedly slammed drug-related killings under the Duterte administration, has been the subject of criticism from the President and his allies. It was also the CHR, under now-detained Senator Leila de Lima in 2009, that first investigated Duterte’s alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad.

Duterte had blamed CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon for the measly budget, saying he overstepped his bounds in actively investigating human rights abuses especially in the ongoing drug war. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com