Ren­der­ing CHR in­utile

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

It’s not that Congress is de­ter­mined to abol­ish the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) es­pe­cially af­ter be­ing on the re­ceiv­ing end of a pub­lic back­lash over its pas­sage of a pal­try P1,000 bud­get for the agency.

As House Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez bluntly told any­one who cared to lis­ten, their real tar­get was CHR Chair­man Chito Gas­con whom they per­ceived to be “yel­low” or aligned with the op­po­si­tion Lib­eral Party (LP).

Af­ter hear­ing about the P1,000 bud­get, Gas­con be­wailed what he de­scribed as a “capri­cious dis­play of power” or en­ti­tle­ment on Congress’ part, as he re­it­er­ated that the CHR is an agency cre­ated by the Con­sti­tu­tion pre­cisely to act as a check against the abuses com­mit­ted by our law en­force­ment agen­cies and the mil­i­tary.

But it’s pre­ma­ture for now to launch any fundrais­ing cam­paign for the CHR since bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions are still on­go­ing. What is good is that Congress felt the pub­lic back­lash which re­minded them who their em­ploy­ers are.

And we hope that even­tu­ally Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, a for­mer Davao City pros­e­cu­tor who han­dled cases of left­ist mil­i­tants who ac­cused sol­diers of abuses, can re­con­sider and give a more rea­son­able bud­get for the CHR.

Again, it’s re­ally not about the CHR de­spite the ra­bid and re­cy­cled pro­nounce­ments by Duterte loy­al­ists on so­cial me­dia. It’s about Gas­con who has been pub­licly crit­i­cal of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s war on drugs which the Pres­i­dent doesn’t take kindly on.

Since day one, the Pres­i­dent has made it clear that he brooks no crit­i­cism, let alone ques­tion­ing, of his vi­cious, re­lent­less war on il­le­gal drugs, its syn­di­cates and even its users.

He has taken on the US and Europe and world lead­ers who ques­tioned his war, had his sub­al­terns file charges against crit­ics, and goaded the po­lice and the mil­i­tary into killing drug sus­pects who re­sist ar­rest.

In pass­ing a P1,000 bud­get to the CHR, Congress re­minded Gas­con who his bosses are even if un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, the CHR chair­per­son along with the Om­buds­man have fixed terms that shield them from po­lit­i­cal pres­sure and al­low them to ex­er­cise some sem­blance of in­de­pen­dence in purs­ing their man­date.

But aside from im­peach­ment, there are other ways for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to pres­sure the CHR, and the bud­get is one of them. With Chief Jus­tice Maria Lour­des Sereno on their chop­ping block, it’s doubt­ful for now if Congress will pur­sue im­peach­ment against Gas­con.

Sure, there are other agen­cies that re­ceived mi­nus­cule bud­gets like the En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ERC), but the CHR’s func­tion and role hits at the heart and ra­tio­nale of why the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion was en­acted in the first place. And that is to en­sure that Filipinos re­gard­less of their sta­tus in life won’t ex­pe­ri­ence anew the Mar­tial Law–era abuses of years past.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.