After the smoke cleared, it was 119 votes against 32.
The House of Representatives ended the budget deliberations for 2018 by giving the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a budget of P1,000 for the next year.
The budget is the reaction of the lawmakers for CHR’s consistent criticisms of the Duterte Administrations brutal war on drugs. 119 lawmakers voted in favor of the move to reduced the budget of CHR to P1,000 from the Department of Budget proposed P678 million. Only 32 lawmakers voted against the motion. *
|Super Majority at work, 119 flashes president Duterte's close fist, after a successful deliberation of reducing the annual budget of CHR to P1,000 (photo credit to House of Representatives)|
1SAGIP Party-list Rodante Marcoleta moved for the P1,000 budget, as he criticized CHR for "not upholding the human rights of everyone" and for supposedly failing to go after criminals. He also assailed the legal basis for the creation of the CHR, arguing it was only an executive fiat of then President Corazon Aquino which created the CHR.
Buhay Party-list representative Lito Atienza, objected to Marcoleta’s argument, and even suggested that CHR’s budget should be at P2 billion due to many accusations of human rights violations under the Duterte government. And that Aquino’s government was a revolutionary one,, that granted her the powers to create laws.
CHR Chairman Chito Gascon was deeply saddened by the budget cut, saying Congress' move was a "whimsical & capricious display of vindictiveness."
"We had hoped that both the Speaker & the House Majority would have been persuaded by reason & necessity to allocate an adequate budget to CHR in order for us to effectively perform our constitutional mandate as an independent office to protect human rights," he said.
Gascon, found solace from the 32 representatives that voted against the move of their colleagues.
"We were heartened by the courage & commitment manifested by many members of the House who stood their ground to defy the tyranny of numbers shamelessly exhibited tonight. We are grateful to them & draw strength from their solidarity as we press on with pursuing our mandate to uphold & defend all the human rights of all," Gascon said. *
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has been quoted prior to the vote saying that:
"Hindi nila ginagawa yung trabaho nila. Yung mandato nila under the Constitution, hindi nila ginagawa. Ano yun? Para protektahan yung karapatang pantao ng lahat ng tao, hindi lang noong mga kriminal," the speaker said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
"Kapag mayroong mga victims na hindi ano…itong mga victims mismo ng human rights, ayaw nilang magsalita, wala man lang silang programa para doon sa mga biktima. Pero kapag yung rights ng mga kriminal, ay maingay sila," said the Speaker.
"Bakit, hindi ba, noong mayroong na-massacre, mayroon ba silang sinabi? May comment ba sila, mayroon ba silang simpatya man lang, wala," said Alvarez, using the massacre of a family of five in Bulacan months ago as a case in point.
Gascon should RESIGN
During an ambush interview, Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Gwen Pimentel Gana confirmed that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez told her during their recent meeting that the CHR's budget would be approved if Gascon stepped down from his post.
"He [Alvarez] just expressed his feelings the same way he said to the public, that he intends to pursue the P1,000 budget for the CHR and, of course, he did mention that if the chair [Gascon] would step down, then probably the budget would be increased or given to the CHR," she said. *
Gascon refused to resign and instead thanked the 32 lawmakers who objected to the budget cut.
"Many of us were teary-eyed…I became teary-eyed because these were tears of joys…that there was so many who stood up, not the majority, but so many. In fact, many of those at the first stage who didn't vote 'aye' but had to stand up later also approached us," he said.
Gascon explained that life goes on for the CHR since the budget bill still has to go through the Senate and the bicameral conference committee before it is signed by the President.
"The commission will continue to operate so long as the Constitution operates. Despite this defeat in the House, we look forward to defending our budget in the Senate and we hope that reason...will prevail both at the Senate as well as in the bicameral conference committee," he said.
reports from abs-cbn website & philstar