Majority solons come out to defend vote for P1,000 CHR budget
This time, three majority lawmakers allied to the administration have come out to defend their position in giving an inutile P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
During the “Ugnayan sa Batasan” press briefing at the House of Representatives on Monday, ABS Rep. Eugene De Vera, Coop Natcco Rep. Anthony Bravo, and Acts-OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said the CHR deserved the P1,000 budget for its failure to fulfill its mandate of guarding against all abuses involving civil and political rights.
They were among the 119 lawmakers who approved the P1,000 budget to the human rights commission.
De Vera said the CHR was silent during the “laglag bala” incident in Metro Manila airports that victimized overseas Filipino workers.
“Paninidigan ko po ang boto ko na yes, bawasan ang budget ng CHR… Ngayon, nireview namin yung performance ng CHR at naniniwala kami na hindi nagagampanan yung dapat na trabaho,” De Vera said.
Bertiz said the CHR was also silent on the alleged abuses involving his party-list sector’s overseas Filipino workers.
“Tulad ng sinabi ng ating kasamahan, pinaninindigan ko ang aking boto to support P1,000 na ibinigay ng Kongreso sa CHR… Hindi namin nararamdaman for so many years ang pakikipaglaban ng CHR sa sector namin, lalo na sa OFW,” Bertiz said.
Bravo said he voted to give CHR a measly budget because of the human rights commission’s apparent partisanship in investigating cases of alleged summary killings.
“Ang mandato ng CHR ay imbestigahan lahat ng klase ng human rights violations. Walang partisan, walang kulay. Subalit po, with our analysis, mukhang may pinipili ang CHR,” Bravo said.
But the lawmakers were quick to clarify that their votes for the CHR’s P1,000 budget do not mean they do not value human rights.
“Ang P1,000 budget, klaruhin natin, ay hindi value ng human rights. Ito ay mensahe sa CHR at ano pang ahensiya na gampanan mo ang tunay na mandato, kundi hindi, mawawalan ka ng budget,” Bravo said.
The lawmakers made their statements following a social media backlash when netizens expressed outrage and demanded that their representatives explain why they voted to defund the agency, which has long been critical of the administration’s war on drugs.
Netizens particularly cried foul when lawmakers were seen flashing the clenched fist pose of President Rodrigo Duterte in a photo, right after they voted to approve on second reading the proposed 2018 budget, which included the defunded CHR appropriation.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the CHR deserved to get such a measly budget for protecting the rights of criminal syndicates.
He added that the lower House voted to defund the CHR as representatives of the people. The Speaker also called CHR chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon “thick-faced” for asking for budget when it supposedly failed to fulfill its mandate. /je