THIS time, it’s not just about the res­ig­na­tion of Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sioner Chito Gas­con. For Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez, the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights ( CHR) can get back its P678-mil­lion bud­get for 2018 if it could come up with pro­grams that would en­able it to ful­fil its man­date pro­vided un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“The CHR can have its bud­get back if it can give us pro­grams. What are your pro­grams that will en­able you to ful­fill your man­date un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion? Now, if we see that you have a good pro­gram, why will we not give back your bud­get? There is still a bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­miten­able you to ful­fill your man­date bud­get,” Al­varez said in a press brief­ing at the Makati Shangri-La on Fri­day.

Al­varez also said that there was noth­ing po­lit­i­cal about P1,000 bud­get the House ap­pro­pri­ated to the CHR as it was a pun­ish­ment for not do­ing its job un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Al­varez said all the CHR had to do was to do its job.

“The CHR should do its job. That’s all there is to it. We pro­vided only a P1,000 bud­get be­cause it was not do­ing its job. It is sim­ple, it has to jus­tify its pro­grams for the in­no­cent vic­tims,” he said.

Al­varez also slammed some law­mak­ers who op­posed the House de­ci­sion to slash the P678 mil­lion bud­get, say­ing they mis­un­der­stood the CHR’s func­tion.

“This is what the CHR is try­ing to preach. It is not read­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. It should read it like it is its Bi­ble. It should read its man­date,” he said.

“It is clear that it should pro­tect ev­ery­one, not just who it wants to pro­tect. Be­ing se­lec­tive has no room for hu­man rights.”

Al­varez, how­ever, did not for­get Gas­con who, he said, was po­lit­i­cally se­lec­tive about who to pro­tect, cit­ing his visit to Sen. Leila de Lima who is de­tained on drug charges at the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) Cus­to­dial Cen­ter; and the Ma­mas­apano case in­volv­ing the deaths of 44 mem­bers of the elite Spe­cial Ac­tion Force (SAF) in the hands of Mus­lim in­sur­gents on Jan. 15, 2015.

“When he vis­ited de Lima, I asked him who else did he visit. He told me that he vis­ited no one else be­cause he did not have any time left. If you are to visit the pris­on­ers, the cells are close to each other, why did you not visit them? He did not check the sta­tus of the other pris­on­ers,” he said.

“An­other ex­am­ple is the Ma­mas­apano case. Did the CHR do any­thing un­der his lead­er­ship? It is very clear that there was a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights, es­pe­cially to the sol­diers who were left for dead.”

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Danilo Suarez had called for the res­ig­na­tion of Gas­con in ex­change for the restora­tion of the CHR’s P678mil­lion bud­get for 2018.

“I am will­ing to ask the ma­jor­ity to re­con­sider the P1,000 bud­get of the CHR if there will be a re­or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Suarez said af­ter the bud­get cut.

This de­ci­sion has brought the law­mak­ers in the House on col­li­sion course with the Se­nate, which vowed to do its best to bring back the orig­i­nal pro­posed ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

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