MANILA, Philippine – Detained Senator Leila de Lima slammed President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in the House of Representatives for granting a measly P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights for 2018.
De Lima, a former CHR chairperson, said the House effectively made the constitutional body "inutile" in its mandate of protecting human rights against government abuses, especially with the ongoing bloody drug war.
“Sukdulan na talaga ang kahibangan nitong administrasyong Duterte. Sagad-sagaran na rin ang kapal ng mukha ng mga Kongresistang sunud-sunuran sa kabaliwan ng Malacañang,” De Lima said in a statement on Wednesday, September 13.
(The insanity of this Duterte administration is acute. The brazenness of members of Congress who follow the crazed bidding of Malacañang is also severe.)
“Sa gustong mangyari ng karamihan ng mga 'kagalang-galang' na Kongresista, ginawa na rin nilang inutil ang CHR sa mandatong pangalagaan ang karapatang pantao mula sa pag-abuso ng gobyerno gaya ng pagpatay sa mahigit na 13,000 Pilipino,” the senator added.
(Because of what our "honorable" congressmen want to happen, they have made the CHR inutile in its mandate to protect human rights against government abuses, just like the killings of more than 13,000 Filipinos.)
When she was CHR chair in 2009, De Lima investigated then Davao City Mayor Duterte for his alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad. Duterte had never forgotten what happened to him, and had often mentioned the incident in his tirades against the senator early in his presidency.
De Lima is now detained in Camp Crame for supposed fabricated drug charges, with no less than the President as her top accuser. (READ: De Lima in jail: 'I never imagined Duterte would be this vindictive')
The opposition senator and human rights advocate said the recent moves of Duterte and his allies proved that the President is indeed “power hungry, morally bankrupt, and crooked.”
She lauded the 32 representatives who voted against Duterte’s will and condemned the “119 lapdogs” who supported it.
“Wala na talagang tinirang kahihiyan si Duterte sa Pilipino at sa mundo (Duterte has left Filipinos and the world without a shred of shame.) Pathetic. This is despotism at its finest. This is absolute arrogance of megalomaniacs. This is once again a clear proof of Duterte’s power hungry, morally bankrupt and crooked governance,” she said.
She said the measly amount appears to be the value the Duterte administration and its House allies place on the human rights of apparent victims of abuse such as slain teenagers Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman. The first two were killed in police operations while the third, the youngest, was found dead with 30 stab wounds.
“Hindi P1,000 ang halaga ng karapatang pantao ni Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, at Reynaldo de Guzman. Hindi isanlibong piso ang halaga ng karapatang pantao ni Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, at Reynaldo de Guzman. Hindi P1,000 ang halaga ng karapatang pantao ng isandaang milyong Pilipino,” De Lima said.
(The value of the human rights of Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman, and the rest of the 100 million Filipinos, is not just P1,000.)
Despite this, De Lima is positive that the Senate would restore the CHR’s budget.
“I believe that my colleagues in the Senate will not tolerate this utter madness. For once, let us stand united against this insanity. The world is watching,” she said.
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.
Duterte had blamed Gascon for the measly budget, saying he overstepped his bounds in actively investigating human rights abuses in the Philippines, angering lawmakers in the process.
De Lima said Duterte had long planned to abolish the CHR for criticizing his drug war. She added that Duterte wanted the same for the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) – which also got a P1,000 budget for next year – as she recalled that the President threatened to bomb Lumad schools.
Senators have vowed to restore the full allocation of the constitutional body and vowed to scrutinize the national budget approved by the House.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said should the House insist, the Senate would likely stand its ground even if it means delaying the passage of the 2018 budget and just reenacting the 2017 budget.
"We will take the position that if the House will not agree to restore the budget of the CHR, then so be it, we will have a re-enacted budget. The Senate, I would like to think, will not stand for the abolition of the CHR, through giving it a P1,000 budget. If the house will insist on that, then there will be a deadlock for the 2018 General Appropriations Act," Drilon said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org