Commission on Human Rights

CHR budget over the years: Upwards trend, but below expectations

Matthew G. Yuching
CHR budget over the years: Upwards trend, but below expectations

PH RIGHTS COMMISSION. The facade of the Commission on Human Rights building.

The Commission on Human Rights has not been a priority in terms of budget allocation

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the P5.2 trillion General Appropriations Act on December 16, 2022. The biggest budget to date, Marcos hopes that the “fine gift” in signing the budget for the year will help the country emerge from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (READ: ‘Fine Christmas gift’: Marcos signs P5.2-trillion 2023 budget

According to the General Summary of the Act, the CHR is set to receive P993 million in funding for 2023, around P70 million more than last year. Over the years, the CHR has used its funding mainly for its human rights protection, promotion, and policy advisory operations, with P519.8 million expected to be spent on operations for 2023.

How much has the CHR been allotted over the years?

Breakdown of CHR budget

The CHR budget for the year is broken down into 4 expense classes:

  • personnel services, or the salaries and wages of government employees;
  • maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), or the supplies, transportation, and utility expenses of the agency;
  • financial expenses, or the bank, interest, or other financial fees spent throughout the year;
  • capital outlays, or assets bought by the agency that will be used beyond the year it was bought (e.g. property, investments, etc.).

Majority of the budget often goes to personnel services, except in 2017 when it saw a major increase in allotment. The overall P300-million boost allowed the commission to allocate P156 million more towards maintenance and other operating expenses, as well as increase its capital outlays spending. P10,000 is spent annually on financial expenses.

Expectations vs reality

For the past 7 years, the CHR requested a higher allocation of appropriations for the year, but was only given around P600 million on average.

The closest the CHR was able to get the budget it requested was in 2017 when the General Appropriations Act (GAA) gave the commission P749 million, 13% less than what it had originally proposed of P861 million.

A dip in allocations happened in 2018 when the commission only received P693 million. Davao del Norte representative Pantaleon Alvarez infamously proposed to give the CHR P0 and P1000 as its budget that year, saying that the commission was not doing its job.

Under Republic Act 10368, special provisions from the years 2016 to 2018 stated an allocation of P10 billion to be used as reparations for human rights violation victims and the operation of the Human Rights Victims Board. This is not mentioned in the GAAs from 2019 onwards.

The CHR planned to include the establishment of a Human Rights Institute in its 2022 budget but was vetoed by then-president Rodrigo Duterte, on the grounds that no specific appropriation was set aside for its creation.

Concerns were raised in September 2022 when the National Expenditure Program only allotted P803 million for the CHR. Commission Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia hoped that an increase in their budget is “a mark of the government’s respect for the work of an independent national human rights institution.”

The CHR only recently welcomed its 3rd commissioner, Faydah Maniri Dumarpa, last January 8, 2023. Prior to her appointment, the CHR was effectively unable to function due to not meeting a quorum in order to make decisions. Two more appointees are needed to complete the independent body. (READ: Marcos names new CHR commissioner, still missing 2 for complete leadership) – Pola Regalario/Rappler.com

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