Senate to work with House to find viable means on budget of CHR, 2 other agencies
The Senate would work to find a “reasonable middle ground” with the House of Representatives over the drastic difference between the two chambers’ proposed budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and two other agencies, according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
The Senate and the House would be threshing out the differences in their 2018 budget proposals in the bicameral conference.
Aside from the CHR, the House had also given the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) an annual budget of P1,000 each.
According to Pimentel, giving them a paltry budget may not be the best way to address lawmakers’ concerns with these offices.
“I understand that our colleagues in the House have their concerns and issues with these agencies, but we have to ask ourselves if the best way to address this is by radically reducing their budgets to the point that they are de facto abolished. This may be akin to ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water,’” Pimentel said in a statement.
He is optimistic that the two chambers would be able to resolve the matter.
“At the end of the day, I believe that reason and compassion will prevail and that the Legislature will do what is best for our people,” he said.
According to him, a distinction must be made between redundant agencies and those that are accused of not fulfilling their mandate but perform important functions.
For instance, he agrees with the abolition of the Road Board, whose functions can be done by other offices.
“But in the cases of the CHR, ERC, and the NCIP, they perform critical tasks. These agencies are supposed to help guarantee the rights of our people: human rights, consumer rights, and indigenous peoples’ rights. If these agencies cannot function, who will fulfill their mandates?” he added.
The people must not be made to suffer because of these agencies’ supposed failures to perform their duties, he said.
“If the issue is the mismanagement of the ERC and NCIP, then let us ask their heads to step down and request the President to replace their respective heads with individuals who are clean and competent,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Malacañang official, Assistant Communications Secretary Kris Ablan, said the House’s reduction of the CHR budget to P1,000 was part of the legislature’s checks and balance of power.
The House proposal also comes at the early stage of the budget process, and the amount would have to be reconciled with the Senate proposal, said Ablan.
Ablan noted that Malacañang had proposed a P600-million budget for the CHR. /jpv