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Embattled

By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is in no enviable situation at the moment as the House voted to give it P1,000 budget for 2018, along with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Still, this decision has to be reconciled through a bicameral conference that will consist of representatives from both the Senate and the House.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the House would be giving the CHR a P1,000-budget due to its failure to perform its job. Surprisingly, majority of the House members supported Alvarez as they voted 119-32 for that budget.

The House plans to allocate funds supposedly for the CHR, NCIP and ERC to fund the free tuition law signed by President Duterte.

The CHR has received criticism coming mostly from the camp of the administration following its statements against the ongoing war on drugs but not on the victims of crimes.

The agency has frequently expressed concern over the deaths linked to the drug war, especially the ones which it believed were unjustified.

But then, is this not the main function of the CHR? Our people should bear in mind that the mandate of the CHR is to help the victims of government abuses, and not victims of ordinary crimes, which is a police matter.

If one falls victim to a criminal and gets killed, the family seeks the help of the police. But if the person gets victimized by the police or other government forces, he or his next-of-kin runs to the CHR.

In plain and simple words, it is the body that implements the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. You cannot expect them to remain silent when a lot of people are getting killed.

A senator even went as far as telling CHR Chairman Chito Gascon that he should resign if he cannot support the President’s war on drugs, to which Speaker Alvarez readily agreed.

The R1,000-budget was probably made to symbolize the anger of our congressmen towards CHR. They should, however, realize that it could also symbolize the worth of the human rights of Filipinos under this administration.

The plan to transfer the budget of the CHR, NCIP and ERC to free tuition is perceived by many as a means to divert the people’s attention to the real issue which is human rights, and make the people behind it appear pleasant under the public eye.

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