Commission on Human Rights

In House hearing, Marcoleta complains about ‘bashing’ for pushing P1,000 CHR budget

Jairo Bolledo
In House hearing, Marcoleta complains about ‘bashing’ for pushing P1,000 CHR budget

LAWMAKER. Rep. Rodante Marcoleta during the 2023 budget briefing of the Commission on Human Rights, at the House of Representatives on September 15, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Did you know that because of that, I had several bashers? Thousands of them until today,' Marcoleta says during the House hearing for CHR's proposed 2023 budget

SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta, known for eagerly campaigning for an ABS-CBN shutdown and pushing for the P1,000 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2017, used the House budget hearing to air his personal gripes for the “bashing” he got. 

Five years had passed, but Marcoleta still recalled the CHR P1,000 budget issue and said he received flak for just directing and “reorienting” the CHR’s mandate. 

Person, Human, Text

“Did you know that because of that, I had several bashers? Thousands of them until today,” Marcoleta said during the House appropriations committee hearing for the CHR. 

“Because I think the CHR failed to tell the public that I just did that to direct and reorient the constitutional mandate of the CHR that not only the state agents and state actors should be the focus of your jurisdiction, but also non-state agents like private armies or armed groups, private people,” he added. 

It was Marcoleta who pushed to slash the CHR’s budget to P1,000 in 2017. The motion was supported by at least 119 lawmakers. (READ: How the House voted for a P1,000 CHR budget

For the 2022 elections, Marcoleta gunned for a Senate seat, but backed out later. Before he withdrew, he was announced as part of the Marcos-Duterte tandem, which described him as being “widely known for slashing the budget of the Commission on Human Rights to P1,000 in 2017.”

‘Abandoned’ Marcoleta

Before airing his complaints, Marcoleta first asked CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia why he (Marcoleta) pushed to slash the CHR’s budget. De Guia then proceeded to explain that it was done to correct the misconceptions about the commission’s mandate. 

But Marcoleta did not end there – he ranted that his dissertation adviser at the University of the Philippines “abandoned” him after what he did. 

“Madam chair, I also want to inform this committee that because of that position, ‘yong (the) P1,000 budget, I was then doing my doctoral dissertation at the University of the Philippines. Alam po ba ninyo na ‘yong aking adviser iniwanan ako dahil sa aking ginawa?” Marcoleta said. (Did you know that my adviser left me because of what I did?)

De Guia replied: “Unfortunately, madam chair, we were not aware of that.” 

During the House’s budget hearing in 2017 for the CHR, Marcoleta asked if a certain news organization violated former president Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights. Five years later, he used the same logic, and banked on his dissertation experience to interrogate about the CHR’s investigative function. 

Iniwanan po ako ng aking adviser, na-violate po ba ang aking human right? (My adviser left me, did that violate my human rights?)” Marcoleta asked. 

De Guia responded quickly, but she was unable to finish her sentence because the lawmaker interrupted. Marcoleta insisted: “No, the question is, na-violate ba ang aking human right?” (Were my human rights violated?)

With little choice, De Guia agreed with Marcoleta’s point and noted the people’s right to education.

Marcoleta asked that since his “human rights” were “violated,” would the CHR probe it?”

De Guia replied: “We commit to look into the matter, madam chair. We will be engaging [in] a dialogue with the professor so that we can discuss the matter and thresh out the matter.”

Repeatedly during the hearing, Marcoleta also grilled the CHR over its mandate.

Contrary to claims that the CHR only focuses in probing state agents, it also covers non-state agents. This was clarified by the CHR in a 2020 statement.

Budget cut

For 2023, the CHR might receive a P118-M budget cut.

Originally, De Guia said the CHR is proposing a P1.646 billion budget for 2023. But the Department of Budget and Management, through the National Expenditure Program, proposed P803,283,000 only.

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Proposed P118-M budget cut threatens CHR’s vital work

Proposed P118-M budget cut threatens CHR’s vital work

This is 12.27% or P118,233,000 lower compared to the CHR’s P921,156,000 budget in 2022.

According to De Guia, the budget cut will affect their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses. She emphasized that most of their operations rely on transportation so it would be greatly affected by the cut. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.