Palace won’t stop CHR budget cut

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MalacaÑang won’t stand in the way of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s proposal to reduce the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to P1,000, a Palace official said on Monday.

“None that I know of,” was Malacañang spokesman Ernesto Abella’s reply when asked if the Palace will oppose Alvarez’s proposal.

“I will have to refer that [matter]to the Office of the [Executive Secretary], and we can find what the President’s formal position is,” Abella said.

The Department of Budget and Management has proposed a P65-million budget for CHR for 2018–a reduction of its 2017 budget of P724.9 million.

Alvarez earlier threatened to give zero budget to the CHR for allegedly being partisan against the Duterte administration.

He accused CHR chief Chino Gaston of being biased since Gaston was one of the CHR officials who made a visit to Sen. Leila de Lima, who is detained on drug-related charges.

Alvarez also took offense that the CHR is calling out state agents, including the police, over alleged extrajudicial killings when the commission does not call out criminals.

“When it’s the police who could be involved in extrajudicial killings, they make so much noise. Human rights are for all. They should also look at the victims of the criminals. What is CHR doing for the crime victims? If you ask me, we should reduce their budget. They even deserve zero with their performance,” he said.

“The CHR is not fair. Look at your attitude. You are partial. You visit a special person. That is the reality,” Alvarez added, apparently referring to de Lima.

Under Section 18, Article 13 of the 1987 Constitution, the CHR is mandated, among others, to investigate all forms of human rights violations committed by government agents involving civil and political rights; provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection; exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons or detention facilities; recommend to Congress effective measures to promote human rights and to provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families; monitor the Philippine government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights; grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth in any investigation conducted by it or under its authority.

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