COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon said that he was extremely disappointed by the decision of the House of Representatives to allocate a P1,000-budget for the agency.
“We are saddened by this whimsical and capricious display of vindictiveness,” Gascon said in a text message to The Manila Times on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives, voting 119-32, approved on Tuesday the measly budget of the CHR for 2018, which is way below its proposed P678 million.
Although the proposal was approved at the Senate finance committee on Monday, it was not to be in the House as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez himself claimed that the CHR “failed to fulfill its mandate.”
Gascon said: “We had hoped that both the Speaker and the House Majority would have been persuaded by reason and necessity to allocate an adequate budget to CHR in order for us to effectively perform our constitutional mandate as an independent office to protect human rights.”
Before the budget cut, Congress has expanded the role of the CHR by designating powers and functions in special laws, such as the Magna Carta for Women; the Anti-Torture Law; the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law; and as Ombudsman for children. As part of its mandate, the CHR cooperates with different stakeholders and has assisted the Human Rights Offices of the Security Sector, as well as the Presidential Human Rights Committee.
Despite the House vote, the CHR still thanked the 32 lawmakers who “stood their ground to defy the tyranny of number shamelessly exhibited (Tuesday night).”
He added: “We will pursue our cause in the course of the ongoing budget process as the budget goes to the Senate…we will also explore all available remedies.”