‘A ploy to de­stroy the con­sti­tu­tion’

BARCENAS ON CHR BUD­GET CUT

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - by Morex­ette Marie B. Er­ram and Win­ston P. En­somo COR­RE­SPON­DENTS

The pass­ing of a P1,000 bud­get for the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is an “at­tempt to de­stroy the con­sti­tu­tion,” said hu­man rights lawyer Dem­ocrito Barcenas, as he also con­demned House Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez for cru­sad­ing the house bill that dras­ti­cally slashed the CHR bud­get.

“It’s a shame­ful at­tempt to de­stroy the Con­sti­tu­tion. Speaker Al­varez, to­gether with his min­ions in the House, de­serves the con­tempt of the peo­ple for his acts of not giv­ing suf­fi­cient funds to con­sti­tu­tional bod­ies like the CHR in the per­for­mance of their func­tion,” he added.

The Bagong Alyansang Mak­abayan (Bayan) Cebu spokesman Jaime Pagli­nawan warned that the bud­get cut is a sig­nal of an ap­proach­ing dic­ta­tor­ship of the Duterte regime.

He also re­lated the move to Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s threat to de­clare mar­tial law in the en­tire coun­try of armed groups and mil­i­tants who will bring their armed strug­gle to the streets, and ar­rest those who cause in-fight­ing in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The pres­i­dent doesn’t want to have check and bal­ance. He doesn’t want any op­po­nents to in­ves­ti­gate his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lapses. He ig­nores any probes,” Pagli­nawan said in Ce­buano.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion clearly dis­re­gards hu­man rights, they are not con­cerned whether hu­man rights are vi­o­lated or not,” he added.

Be­fore the House voted 119 – 31 in fa­vor of House Bill 6125, the bud­get bill for 2018, Al­varez had al­ready threat­ened to re­duce or com­pletely re­peal CHR’s bud­get, say­ing the hu­man rights body was in­ef­fec­tive and in­ef­fi­cient in car­ry­ing out the man­dates laid out for the of­fice.

De­spite the del­uge of crit­i­cism it drew, Al­varez said he is un­fazed and stood firm that the de­ci­sion of the lower House cut­ting down the CHR bud­get to al­most noth­ing, reached last Mon­day, was “the right thing to do.”

Barcenas, who heads the big­gest group of hu­man rights lawyers in the coun­try, also slammed those who sup­ported the House’s en­dorse­ment of the 2018 bud­get, in­clud­ing Cebu City Mayor

To­mas Os­meña.

“We con­demn those who voted to give CHR a measly bud­get. They were just fol­low­ing or­ders from the speaker who acted on cue from Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who, too many times be­fore, an­nounced to abol­ish CHR ... And as for Mayor Tommy Os­meña, please do study the Con­sti­tu­tion. I dis­agree with his claims,” he stated.

Os­meña had ear­lier said he sup­ported the cut­ting of the CHR bud­get from P600 mil­lion to P1,000.

“I’m get­ting bwe­sit (ir­ri­tated) al­ready. Hu­man rights don’t only work for crim­i­nals. It works for the vic­tims of these crim­i­nals,” Os­meña was quoted in ear­lier re­ports.

In re­sponse, Barcenas gave a lec­ture on the ori­gins of the hu­man rights body in­tended for the mayor.

“CHR is com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the vic­tims – all vic­tims of abuses from law en­force­ment agen­cies. The CHR, cre­ated by the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, was the af­ter­math of the bru­tal­i­ties of mar­tial law be­cause there were vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights com­mit­ted un­der the Mar­cos regime. That’s why (it is there) to look af­ter the hu­man rights be­cause, in any gov­ern­ment, there are al­ways abuses com­mit­ted by law en­force­ment agen­cies,” said Barcenas.

How­ever, he was con­fi­dent the Se­nate would re­verse the de­ci­sion of the House.

“There is hope, and I am happy that the Sen­a­tors have agreed to pro­vide the nec­es­sary funds in­tended for CHR. I think most mem­bers of the bi­cam­eral com­mit­tee will re­store the bud­get of the CHR be­cause pub­lic opin­ion is against the acts of Speaker Al­varez. It has suf­fered a back­lash and peo­ple are now con­demn­ing that move,” added Barcenas.

“We must ac­knowl­edge and ap­pre­ci­ate the acts of three Ce­buano law­mak­ers – Wilfredo Caminero, Aileen Radaza and Raul Del Mar for stand­ing up and show­ing their in­de­pen­dence and con­cern for hu­man rights. I re­ally sa­lute these Ce­buanos for not fol­low­ing the acts of the speaker, and for stand­ing up in this is­sue. The is­sue of hu­man rights is an is­sue for ev­ery­one,” Barcenas said.

AL­VAREZ

BARCENAS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.