House panel okays P689-M CHR 2019 budget in under 5 minutes
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) breezed through its budget briefing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 4 – a stark contrast to what happened in 2017.
With only two lawmakers present, the House committee on appropriations approved CHR’s proposed P689.706 million budget for 2019 in less than 5 minutes.
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman motioned to end the briefing after CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon’s opening statement. It will now move to the plenary for deliberations.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa committee sa mabilis na pangtanggap sa mungkami naming budget para sa susunod na taon,” Gascon said. “Aasahan po namin ang suporta na pinamalas kanina ay magpatuloy sa kamara."
(We thank the committee for the fast approval of our proposed budget for the next year. We expect the same support when it moves to the plenary.)
The Commission on Human Rights’ experience in its latest budget briefing is a "welcome change" from what happened in 2017 when then House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to give zero budget if the commission cannot be abolished.
Gascon said that the speedy briefing for CHR’s 2019 budget is a “good sign” but assures that they are still ready to defend their agency.
“It’s hard to make expectations when we know there are some members of the House and perhaps Senate that want to raise valid questions which should be addressed nonetheless,” he said.
“We hope that moving forward, we might be able as a commission present the strong arguments for why it is important to continue to provide adequate funding to the commission especially during these critical times,” Gascon added.
CHR has consistently been on the receiving end of threats hurled by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies over its stance against the killings under the violent war on drugs.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the commission is mandated to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines)
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, meanwhile, said that this "shows that the HOR recognizes the expediency of the work of the Commission."
“Your confidence in us further boosts our impetus to steadfastly demand accountability from perpetrators, provide recourse for victims especially the most vulnerable ones, and fight for the core rights that define our humanity,” she said. – Rappler.com