Party-list reps explain vote to give CHR P1,000 budget: agency ‘not doing job’

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CHR Chito Gascon
CHR Chairman Chito Gascon. PHIL. STAR FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Three lawmakers on Monday justified their vote for giving the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a P1,000 budget for 2018, saying the rights body deserves it for not doing its job.

Asked in a news conference how they voted (no official list of who voted Yes or No has been released), party-list Representatives Eugene De Vera of ABS, Anthony Bravo of Coop-Natcco, and Aniceto Bertiz of ACTS-OFW said the CHR’s performance in the past years leaves much to be desired.

Klaro naman na base sa constitutional mandate nila ay dapat imbestigahan lahat ng klase ng human rights violations; walang partisan, walang kulay but as per our analysis, mukhang may pinipili ang CHR [It’s clear that based on their constitutional mandate, they should investigate all kinds of huam rights violations; nothing partisan or politically colored. But our analysis shows the CHR has been rather selective],” Bravo said.

De Vera said the CHR has been silent on a lot of issues, such as the tanim-bala victims in airports.

“If you talk to the district representatives, they would say that they do not feel the presence of the CHR in their areas,” De Vera said.

Bertiz said many overseas Filipino workers have become victims of abuse abroad, but CHR did not come to their assistance.

“We didn’t feel for so many years that CHR was fighting for our sector. There were abuses against OFWs, but CHR was silent about it,” Bertiz said.

During plenary voting on September 12, 119 congressmen voted to slash the budget pf the CHR from P649 million to P1,000; a total of 32 House members voted against it.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier lambasted the CHR and threatened to give it a zero budget for, according to him, choosing only to defend the rights of “criminals” and ignoring the needs of innocent people.

The Senate, which is still deliberating on the budget, vowed to restore the appropriations of the rights body. The final version will come out after the bicameral conference meeting, where a small group of congressmen and senators representing their respective chambers tresh out the final details.