Slash House budget instead of CHR? 'Mga gago,' says Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines – For Filipinos who are so outraged at the House of Representative’s decision to cut the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that they want legislators’ budget slashed instead, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has a rather strong message.

Yun mga nagsasabi na yun, mga gago 'yun (People who are saying that are fools),” said Alvarez in a Thursday, September 14, radio interview with Ted Failon.

Failon was asking Alvarez to react to sentiments – both serious and comical – that it’s the House of Representatives that should be stripped of its budget. On September 12, the last day of plenary debates for the 2018 budget, House members voted 113-32 to give the CHR a P1,000 budget for 2018. 

Dapat nilang alalahanin na kami, kami yung hinalal ng taong bayan doon sa distrito namin. At kung hindi namin ginagawa yung trabaho namin, ay accountable kami sa mga tao doon sa distrito namin. Kaya nga po representatives of the people,” he said.

(They should remember that we were elected by people from our districts. If they don’t understand our work, they should know that we are accountable to our districts. That’s why we’re the representatives of the people.)

Alvarez said House members “don't care” about “groups” angry towards them so long as they were doing their jobs are representatives.

Nakita niyo naman kung gaano kasipag yung mga congressman, nagtatrabaho kahit hanggang madaling araw, dahil tinitingnan namin na ginagawa talaga namin ang trabaho namin, base sa mandato po doon sa ating Saligang Batas,” he added.

(You see how hardworking congressmen are. We work until the wee hours of the morning because we make sure that we do our job well, based on our Constitutional mandate.)

The Speaker said they were accountable to their constituents and country at large, and not social media.

Alvarez also defended the House’s move on Thursday, insisting that they did so not because of spite or politics but because the CHR did not do its job right.

The CHR’s main job is to check on alleged abuses by state forces, including soldiers and police. Alvarez has insisted that the CHR unfairly focuses on mistakes by state forces and ignores violations by criminals.

The CHR has been the focus of criticism by the administration, led by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Senators have promised to restore the CHR budget, which Alvarez said he respects. He did, however, insist that the House cannot merely follow the Senate’s decision.

Once the two chambers pass their versions of the 2018 budget, it will go through a bicameral conference committee, where differences will be ironed out. – Rappler.com