MANILA — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Tuesday urged the Senate to provide a workable budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018.
This, after the House of Representatives slashed the agency’s 2018 budget to a measly PHP1,000.
In a statement, the group said the House’s move is an “affront to the rule of law and anathema to the continued existence and independence of the CHR”.
It called on the Senate to do something about the situation.
“In celebration of Law Week, the IBP Board of Governors, by a formal resolution, has urged the Senate of the Philippines to exercise its powers under Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution to propose amendments to the General Appropriations Bill approved by the House of Representatives and thereby ensure that the CHR is provided a sufficient amount of public funds in the GAA for 2018,” the statement said.
The Senate Finance Committee earlier recommended the approval of the CHR’s proposed budget of P678 million for 2018.
The IBP said the budget proposed by the Senate is more in keeping with the clear and uneqiovocal Constitutional intent behind the creation of the commission.
It added that providing sufficient funding to the CHR would not only give meaning to the Constitution but also to the fundamental policy of the State which is to value the dignity of every human person and to guarantee full respect for human rights.
“The appeal is being made in the context of CHR’s constitutional mandate, the multitude of Filipinos, here and abroad, whose human rights the CHR is duty-bound to protect, and the welfare of CHR personnel and their families whose livelihood depends on the CHR, in consonance with the duty of every public officer to be accountable to and to serve the Filipino people, in pursuit of the State Policy to preserve, protect and guarantee the full spectrum of human rights to every Filipino and to each person in the country, and in obedience to the Rule of Law,” the IBP noted.
Fajardo reminded members of the House of Representatives that CHR was created by the 1987 Constitution as an independent body tasked to look into human rights violations of all persons within the Philippines and Filipinos abroad.
“The IBP believes that the miniscule budget approved by the House of Representatives is anathema to the continued existence and independence of the CHR and is thus an affront to the rule of law,” the IBP said.
On Sept. 12, the House of Representatives, voting 119-32, approved the reduction of the CHR’s 2018 budget to a meager PHP1,000.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez cited that the House gave CHR such budget due to its failure to perform its mandate to protect the human rights of all Filipinos.
Several senators, including Senate President Koko Pimentel, said they would fight for the restoration of the PHP678-million budget for the agency as initially proposed by the Department of Budget and Management.