CHR hits House plan to use its budget for free education
MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz on Thursday, September 14, criticized the House of Representatives' plan to use his agency's budget to fund free college education.
"To us it's not an either-or. It's not sacrificing human rights for education. These are all priorities. They have their different purposes," Cadiz said in a press conference at the CHR on Thursday, September 14.
Referring to the plan of the House, Cadiz added, "I think that kind of a statement or a narrative is meant to confuse the people, to sell this false narrative to justify the obviously unjustifiable move to eradicate a constitutional commission especially during these times."
Cadiz made these remarks after Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, bared this proposal on Thursday.
Nograles said the House plans to allocate funds supposedly for the CHR, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to fund the landmark free tuition law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Duterte on how to fund free tuition law: 'Ewan ko')
The CHR alone was initially asking for P649.48 million ($12.65 million).
Caloocan bishop 'shaken'
In Thursday's press conference, Cadiz was also asked about the widespread perception that human rights "cannot be eaten," unlike education that can directly help many Filipinos.
"Tell that to the thousands and thousands of people who can no longer eat because they're already dead," Cadiz said.
"Human rights is all about maintaining not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social, and cultural rights – economic rights especially," he explained.
Seated beside Cadiz on Thursday, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David joined other critics of the move to give the CHR a P1,000 budget.
David was the bishop threatened by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II with an "obstruction of justice" case for protecting witnesses to the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos.
Thursday's press conference was primarily about David and Delos Santos' case.
"In the past several months now, the only government agency we have sought help from was the Commission on Human Rights," David said.
The bishop said he has invited the CHR to his diocese to educate his flock about human rights, help create a human rights council to monitor "deaths under investigation," and to help the diocese find legal aid.
He has also considered "partnering with the CHR for witness protection."
"That is why I was shaken when I heard that the Lower House of Representatives voted to give them an annual budget of P1,000," David continued.
"I hope the Upper House of Congress can be the voice of reason. I hope that they will counteract this move," the bishop said. (READ: After getting P1,000 from House, CHR hopes for 'rational minds' at Senate) – Rappler.com
P51.32 = $1