Reconsider budget cut, CHR appeals to Congress | Inquirer News

Reconsider budget cut, CHR appeals to Congress

/ 05:25 AM September 05, 2022
The Commission on Human Rights office in Quezon City STORY: Reconsider budget cut, CHR appeals to Congress

The Commission on Human Rights office in Quezon City. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has appealed to Congress to reconsider the proposed budget cut for the agency as this would limit its ability to deliver its mandate as the country’s rights watchdog next year.

Under the National Expenditures Program for 2023 submitted by the Department of Budget of Management (DBM) to Congress, the CHR will get P844.1 million to fund its new programs.


This is just half of the agency’s proposed P1.6-billion budget and also lower than its current allocation by P120.5 million.

If the cut pushes through, the CHR said it was concerned that this would heavily impact its ability to investigate cases of human rights violations, as well as provide financial assistance and free legal advice and counseling to victims of human rights violations.


“We have always been willing to work with the government to this end, but we are equally hopeful that we are similarly enabled to do our mandate with the support of a reasonable budget,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement sent to the Inquirer.

Among the most significant cuts are the P30.6 million for its personnel services requirements of 210 unfilled positions and P62 million for items under maintenance and other operating expenses.

The recommended budget also omits previously funded items under capital outlay such as information and communications technology software subscriptions and licenses which were integral to its operations under the pandemic.

International monitoring

The government’s proposed budget for the CHR likewise excludes funding for key CHR programs such as its planned Human Rights Institute program (P12.5 million), which would have offered online general and special classes for government civil servants and the public; its programs for climate change (P570,000), and its monitoring work for the country’s international obligations.

The smaller budget for 2023 also comes as the CHR is set to undergo reaccreditation under the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

With its current Status A distinction, the CHR enjoys independent participation rights at the UN Human Rights Council and related bodies, including voting rights in GANHRI.

But “with the reduced capacity of CHR in fulfilling its mandate, the international human rights community will assess how the government values CHR and its work. GANHRI’s rating will reflect that assessment,” De Guia lamented.


Impact on operations

If the proposed budget passes, the commission will primarily feel its impact in its operations, especially in regional offices, since they do not own the buildings where their offices are located.

Without additional funding, De Guia said, the agency would not only see a deficit in rent and office supplies, but would also not have funding for furniture, fixtures, and even for training and scholarships for its staff.

The CHR had requested from the DBM a budget of P1.6 billion to cover “new and enhanced programs of the commission for our protection, promotion, policy and prevention services.”

De Guia lamented that the difference of P801.4 million between the agency’s request and the DBM’s approved allocation would impact the rights body’s work on case investigations; education and promotion efforts on human rights; advisory functions to government, and monitoring of the human rights conditions in jails and detention facilities.

“We thus appeal that our Congress sees the value of strengthening CHR as the country’s national human rights institute, especially for the benefit of the country’s weak, vulnerable and marginalized,” De Guia said.


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