Today's Punto
Today's Punto
IBP-Pampanga lambastes solons for CHR P1k budget
By Ashley Manabat

Sep 14, 2017

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Pampanga Chapter lambasted the congressmen who voted on Tuesday to give a P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“That is unconstitutional considering that it would render inutile the CHR which is a constitutional body. That is tantamount to abolition. What Congress cannot do directly, it cannot do indirectly.”

Thus, explained Atty. Gener Endona, president of the IBP-Pampanga Chapter on Thursday.

Endona was even more direct in his Facebook post as he joined a growing number of netizens who expressed their dismay on the P1,000 budget congress allocation.

“The CHR is a Constitutional body. To give it a 1k budget is synonymous to its abolition. All those who voted for it grossly committed an unconstitutional act. Shame on you!” he wrote.

The House of Representatives ended debates on Tuesday on the 2018 budget of the CHR and left it with just P1,000 for next year. A total of 119 law makers favored the P1,000 budget while 32 objected.

The CHR, which has been critical of the administration’s war on drugs, had an original budget proposal of P623.38 million.

It was reported that during the voting, 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.

Reports also indicate that the solon assailed the legal basis for the creation of the CHR, arguing it was only an executive fiat of then President Corazon Aquino which created it.

However, this was objected to by Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, who argued that CHR’s budget should be at P2 billion due to the many accusations of violations of human rights under the present government.

CHR Chairman Chito Gascon was “deeply saddened” by the budget cut. He said Congress’ move was a “whimsical & capricious display of vindictiveness.”

It can be recalled that during the CHR meeting of all commissioners and regional directors held at the CHR regional office at the Government Center in Barangay Maimpis here last month, CHR spokesperson Atty. Jackie De Guia expressed optimism that congress will recognize the CHR’s fiscal autonomy and its Constitutional guarantee.

“We do respect the statement made by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, we reiterate that one of the guarantees that the Constitution has provided is that we will enjoy fiscal autonomy and we are optimistic that congress will recognize this,” De Guia said.

She lamented that the CHR has only one vehicle per region. “You can just imagine if a place of incident happens like five hours away, aside from the hours of travel and the logistics, then it’s really very difficult for us to investigate all of these EJK cases especially with the big volume.”

She said each regional office only has seven to 10 investigators and “we only have four lawyers for every region but not all regions have lawyers.”

She said in Region 4, the CHR only has one lawyer while in Region 3 the CHR only has two lawyers besides the regional director herself.

The CHR has only 15 regional offices all over the country.

De Guia even praised the Duterte administration then after congress has given the commission the highest budget of P700 million in 2017.

But as it turned out, congress approved a mere P1,000 budget.

Meanwhile, reports said Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana confirmed that Speaker Alvarez told her during their recent meeting that the CHR’s budget would be approved if Gascon stepped down from his post.

But Gascon refused to resign and instead thanked the 32 lawmakers who objected to the budget cut.

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