Senators on Tuesday, November 16, moved to increase the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2022, as it seeks to ramp-up efforts against abuses in the Philippines.
“Baka naman (Hopefully) in honor of chairman [Chito] Gascon, we can help them increase budget a bit and I’m making this formal motion [for] the amendments requested by our colleagues from the human rights commission,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said during the plenary deliberations for the budget.
Zubiri’s motion was backed by other senators, who also expressed condolences for the passing of Gascon due to COVID-19 complications in early October.
The National Expenditure Program submitted to Congress by the Department of Budget and Management allotted P867,251,000 for CHR in 2022. This is P747 million less than CHR’s proposed P1.6 billion.
CHR is asking for an increase of P82.452 million, according to Senator Ronald dela Rosa. This means that, if passed, the commission’s budget for 2022 would be at least P940 million.
“Kung P82 million ang hinihingi nila, maliit pa iyan, baka pwede pang dagdagan (If they’re only asking for P82 million, that’s so small, maybe we can even add more),” Zubiri said, adding that the request is “so small compared to other agencies.”
Gascon previously asked the House of Representatives for an increase in the commission’s budget for 2022 to further strengthen efforts to prevent and investigate abuses in the country.
“With the support of Congress and provision of sufficient resources, hopefully we will be able to meet fully the need and the demand of the current moment,” Gascon told the House appropriations panel on September 16.
As mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, CHR is on the frontlines in investigating President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs. As a result, the commission has earned the wrath of the Duterte government and key allies.
The commission also continued to face challenges related to its small resources and consistent noncooperation of other government agencies in its investigations, including the Philippine National Police.
Government data showed that as of September 30, at least 6,201 individuals were killed in police anti-illegal drug operations since July 2016. Human rights groups estimate the deaths to be between 27,000 to 30,000 to include victims of extrajudicial killings. (READ: The Impunity Series) – Rappler.com