How will the CHR budget cut affect ordinary Filipinos?

MANILA, Philippines - The decision of the House of Representatives to allocate a P1,000-budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in 2018 quickly received tirades and criticism from netizens and even Senators.

A total of 119 lawmakers voted in favor of the P1,000 budget as 1SAGIP Party-list Rodante Marcoleta accused the CHR of "not upholding the human rights of everyone” and for allegedly not acting on cases against criminals.

How will the CHR budget cut affect ordinary Filipinos?
Marcoleta added that there was no legal basis for the creation of the CHR which was established through the 1987 Constitution under former President Corazon Aquino.

What protection does CHR give?

Given a budget that couldn’t even afford to buy an ordinary smartphone, the CHR will certainly have difficulties and eventually cease functioning. But what protection does the CHR give us? Does it only protect criminals from prosecution? Do ordinary citizens benefit from the CHR?

While the CHR is mandated by law to primarily act on violations by state agents or private individuals upon the order of government authorities such private armies, the Commission is also tasked to ensure that the government will protect the human rights of all Filipinos.

In fact, the agency, regarded as the country’s primary protector of human rights, is expected to protect rights that help ordinary Filipinos live freely. Some of these rights include right to equality; right to life, liberty and personal security; as well as right to free movement in and out of the country.

Hope in the Senate

On Wednesday, September 13, several members of the Senate vowed to restore the agency’s budget.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a sponsor of the CHR budget in the Senate said in a text message: "Of course we will stand our ground on this matter and more. Once we get hold of the House version of the General Appropriations Bill, we will scrutinize it as we always do year in and year out.”

On Twitter, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero wrote: “The CHR is a constitutional imperative and necessity, however inconvenient it may be for some… I will fight to restore its budget.”

“CHR is a necessity, the Constitution mandates it. Functions as a guardian against abuse of those in authority,” Senator JV Ejercito tweeted.

Where will the funds go?

With a huge slash on the budget of the CHR and the retention of the national budget at P3.76 trillion, Sen. Lacson can’t help but question where the House realigned the slashed funds.

Lacson said: “P678-million CHR budget reduced to P1,000 but House version of 2018 national budget stays at P3.767 trillion. It's interesting to find out how the P677 million was chopped.”

-- Mini, The Summit Express

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