By JONAS ALPASAN
MANILA – A New York-based international human rights group has denounced the virtual defunding of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) following the move of the Lower House to appropriate mere P1,000 or about $20 for its budget next fiscal year.
Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director of the Human Rights Watch, described it as a “blow against accountability for human rights violations in the Philippines,” as at least 119 lawmakers voted to approve the measly P1,000 budget.
“If the Senate concurred with this proposal by the Lower House, Congress would effectively defund the CHR. The vote by an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives is part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses, particularly in the context of the brutal drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands, including dozens of children,” Kine said.
The P1,000 allocation is a far cry from the CHR’s proposed P649 million budget.
Earlier this week, CHR chairperson Jose Luis Gascon has expressed apprehension regarding their proposed budget due to their critical stance on President Duterte’s bloody war against drugs, which has reportedly led to the killing of at least 12,000, most if not all come from poor families.
Kine said, “while the CHR’s performance as a constitutional body may not have been fully satisfactory to many Filipinos, its mandate is important in combatting human rights abuses. Instead of defunding it, Congress should increase its resources and ensure that it fulfills that mandate.”