Rep. Vilma Santos not in favor of House-approved budget of P1,000 for CHR

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Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto.

Vilma Santos-Recto is not in favor of the measly P1,000 budget that the House of Representatives had allotted for the the Commission on Human Rights for 2018.

Responding to a Facebook post by talent manager Noel Ferrer, the actress and Batangas 6th district representative said she was not present when the House voted on the CHR budget on Tuesday due to an ulcer attack, but said she would have voted No if she had the chance.

“I am against cutting the budget of the CHR. The Commission has a duty to perform its Constitutional mandate. With so many crimes/ EJK—it needs more resources for these investigations. Ito ang isang Ahensya na tumutulong sa karapatang pang tao!! (This is an agency that helps human rights.),” she said in a message to Ferrer.

InterAksyon earlier mistakenly reported that the unverified Twitter account of the actress-solon confirmed to a Twitter user that she was one of those who voted yes for the controversial CHR budget and later defended her stand. The account’s profile description read, “The mother of Batangas Governor Viilma Santos Recto.”

Officially, only 32 congressmen opposed the House’s controversial proposal which was endorsed by 119 representatives.

In March, Vilma lost her committee chairmanship on civil service and professional regulation as a result of her vote against the death penalty.

Her husband, Ralph Recto, was among the senators who pushed for the Senate approval of a P678-million budget for CHR on Monday — one day before the House vote.

The approved 2018 budget, however, was P47 million lower than CHR’s P724.9 million budget for 2017 but it also included a P28.565-million budget for the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, had vowed to give zero budget to CHR “for always criticizing the government.”

The CHR — which is mandated by the Constitution to protect ordinary citizens against abuses by the police, the military and other agents of the state — has been vocal about the rise of extrajudicial killings in the country brought on by Duterte’s all-out campaign against the illegal drug trade.

However, its efforts to investigate EJK cases have so far been thwarted by officials of the Philippine National Police, reportedly on Duterte’s orders.

As reported by InterAksyon, a partial and unofficial list of House representatives who voted “No” on approving the P1,000 budget for CHR did not include Santos-Recto.

It is not yet known if other entertainers-turned-politicians like Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez and Quezon City 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas voted in favor of the P1,000 budget or if they were just not present during the voting.

Accounting for individual voting was difficult because legislators were merely called to stand for a headcount.