Lower House gives Commission on Human Rights P1,000 budget for 2018

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The Chamber has chose to reduce the funds allocated to the Commission on Human rights to 1,000 pesos (16 euros), in the draft budget 2018 3.800 billion pesos that was voted on second reading Tuesday night.

Several allies of Duterte in the 24-seat chamber said they would scrutinize the house move and try to ensure the commission had a budget that would allow it to work properly.

It is a body tasked to check abuse and uphold fundamental rights, he said. But the poor and the helpless need the CHR to defend them.

Senator Richard Gordon said the CHR had a job to do and should not be restricted. "That is the very essence of democracy".

"The CHR's budget will be maintained by the committee of Senator Lacson, who is in-charge of this, and we will support the proposal of Senator Lacson and the restoration of the budget of the CHR", he said.

"If the house will insist on that, then there will be a deadlock for 2018 general appropriations act", Drilon said, adding that the Senate is willing to have a re-enacted budget for next year should the impasse remains. "I'm not here to destroy institutions", he said.

Coming from a dark period in Philippine history where violations of human rights were rampant - martial law from 1972 until the dictator Marcos was ousted in February 1986 - framers of the 1987 Constitution ensured there would be an independent body that would monitor human rights violations to avoid a return to those dark days - and to ensure government's compliance with global treaties. "However inconvenient it may be for some, I will fight to restore its budget", Sen.

Pangilinan said that despite the meager amount the CHR is getting, "these people are doing their constitutional duty and fighting for the rights of the people". The cell, where 12 people were locked up, was allegedly used as holding area for detainees used by police as milking cows.

Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan also promised to oppose the lower house's approved budget.

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"Notwithstanding the unsatisfactory, oft-criticized performance of the CHR in fulfilling its duties, the move is a solid uppercut created to worsen the Philippine human rights situation and bring the opposition further to its knees", the group said in a statement.

The Philippines is set to give an annual budget of just 1,000 pesos (£15) to its human rights body amid the country's brutal war on drugs.

President Duterte, in a media interview at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City late Tuesday night, blamed "pro-yellow" CHR chairperson Chito Gascon for the measly budget.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Wednesday said Malacañang would not meddle in the move of the House on the three agencies.

Checks and balances among branches of the government are valid, but abolishing constitutional bodies is not part of it, Drilon said.

The NCIP's budget was also reduced to P1,000 from its original budget of P1.132 billion as it allegedly failed to protect the rights of national minorities.

The ERC originally received a proposed budget of P365 million but corruption issues hounding the commission swayed the lawmakers to slash its funding next year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech, during the oath taking of Philippine National Police (PNP) star rank officers, at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines August 30, 2017.