THE House of Representatives on Tuesday allotted P1,000 budget to two agencies — the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).

The vote was overwhelming — 119 lawmakers supported the motion of Sagip Party-List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta to give the CHR P1,000 budget. Only 32 lawmakers opposed it.

The commission had proposed a budget of P678 million for 2018.

Marcoleta accused the CHR of not doing its mandate, citing the cases of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“The CHR is not serious in its job, because in finding the truth it should not leave any stone unturned. More particularly, on the part of those persons who planned the entire operations, if you said that you did investigate but you did not go too far in determining the very truth about this, then the CHR is not doing its job,” Marcoleta said.

But Cebu Rep. Raul Del Mar and Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza defended the commission, saying the P1,000 budget was “ridiculous.”

“It would in effect kill the CHR. Which surely is not what the Constitution intends. Seriously, can Congress legally go against the clear purpose of the Constitution? We are actually abolishing the CHR, which we do not have power to do so,” Del Mar said during the heated plenary debates.

“The CHR has obligations under the Constitution as well as to the international community that upholds human rights. The functions of CHR are misunderstood by many people, including some of our leaders who defend only criminals. We need to be reminded that the CHR was created to help curb excesses and abuses in the seat of power,” he added.

Atienza agreed.

“Pag ito po ay inabolish natin ngayon, wala nang pupuntahan ang ating bansa. Ang problema natin ngayon ay violations of human rights. (If CHR is abolished, the country has nowhere to go. The country’s problem is violations of human rights.) The commission should not be given P600 million, it should be given maybe P2 billion so it would function properly,” Atienza said.

He defended former President Cory Aquino’s right to establish the CHR.

“We were under a revolutionary government. The President had every right to create laws from her own hands, signed by herself,” Atienza said.

Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano warned that without a functioning CHR, “we can only expect more violence and death under this administration.”

Meanwhile, the NCIP was also given P1,000 budget for next year upon the motion of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.

“[T]he NCIP, instead of protecting the ancestral lands of the national minorities, [was]instrumental in its massive loss and plunder to large-scale mining [and]energy projects. The NCIP has been blind, deaf, and mute as hundreds of indigenous peoples have been killed since its institutionalization in 1998,” Zarate said. RALPH VILLANUEVA



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