Robredo on P1,000 budget: 'It's like abolishing CHR'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo slammed the House of Representatives for voting in favor of a P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Robredo, who used to be Camarines Sur 3rd District representative, said she was dismayed lawmakers gave the CHR a measly budget for 2018.

"Tila pagbuwag sa CHR ang magiging epekto ng desisyong ito. Nagbabadya ito ng kawalan ng respeto sa ating Saligang Batas at sa karapatang pantao – parehong banta sa demokrasya," said the Vice President in a statement.

(This decision is like abolishing the CHR. It indicates loss of respect for the Constitution and for human rights – a threat to our democracy.)

"Lalo sa konteksto kung saan laganap ang karahasan at patayan, tunay na nakakabahala ang mensaheng ibinibigay ng pagpilay sa mismong ahensyang dapat nagpapatibay ng ating mga karapatan," added Robredo.

(Especially in the context of a time where there are many cases of violence and killing, it's worrisome that the agency tasked to protect our rights is crippled.)

With a vote of 119-32, the House agreed to give only P1,000 to the CHR, a far cry from the P678 million the commission is proposing for 2018. (READ: How the House voted for a P1,000 CHR budget)

The Senate continues to deliberate on all agencies' proposed appropriations for next year, but the finance committee already approved the P678-million budget proposed by the CHR.

This means lawmakers from both the Senate and the House will have to resolve the discrepancy at the bicameral conference committee level before the entire 2018 national budget is sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for final approval. (READ: After getting P1,000 from House, CHR hopes for 'rational minds' at Senate)

Robredo reminded the public that the CHR was created as a response to the human rights abuses during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

"Ang pagkakaroon ng CHR ang isa sa mga mahalagang pansalag laban sa pagbabalik ng rehimeng mapang-abuso sa ating bayan. Ito rin ang pundasyon ng pagtataguyod sa dignidad at karapatan ng bawat Pilipino," said Robredo.

(The CHR is there to stop the return of an abusive regime to our country. It is also the foundation by which we uphold the dignity and rights of every Filipino.)

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon to resign first before granting a higher budget for the commission.

Duterte himself said Gascon had overstepped his bounds in investigating human rights abuses in the Philippines, which angered the lawmakers who gave the CHR an extremely low budget.

Still, the Vice President is hopeful the Senate will give the CHR the budget it deserves. (READ: Senators hit House over P1,000 CHR budget)

"Umaasa tayong mananaig ang nararapat sa ipapasang badyet. Sabay-sabay tayong maging mapagmatyag sa magaganap na proseso," said Robredo.

(We are hoping what is right will prevail in the approved budget. Let's all be vigilant during the process.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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