Re­store the bud­get for CHR

Manila Times - - OPINION -

THE move by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Tues­day to cut the 2018 bud­get for the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) down to a to­ken P1,000 am who presently run the CHR. It should be seen for what it re­ally is: a dar­ing act to dis­able this con­sti­tu­tional body from per­form­ing its man­dated duty to guard and pro­tect hu­man rights in the coun­try.

With­out a bud­get, the CHR is bound to fail to serve as own or on com­plaint by any party, all forms of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in­volv­ing civil and po­lit­i­cal rights.”

Law­mak­ers – in­clud­ing the Speaker and the con­gress­man who moved to give the CHR a P1,000 bud­get, Sagip partylist Rep. Ro­dante Mar­co­leta – seem un­able to grasp the com­mis­sion’s man­date. That in it­self is an ar­gu­ment for giv­ing the CHR re­sources to let ev­ery­one know what its func­tion is in Philip­pine democ­racy.

All over the civ­i­lized world, hu­man rights bod­ies serve as a check on abuses com­mit­ted by en­ti­ties and per­son­nel of gov­ern­ment. In fact, the Con­sti­tu­tion grants the CHR the power to “mon­i­tor the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment’s com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional treaty obli­ga­tions on hu­man rights.”

The Philip­pines has, in fact, ad­vanced sig­nif­i­cantly on the hu­man rights ad­vo­cacy that it had the moral as­cen­dancy to lead the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions in putting up a hu­man rights body in 2009, against the wishes of its au­to­cratic neigh­bors. But Tues­day’s child­ish episode at the Batasan hall de­val­ues this hard- earned rep­u­ta­tion.

Mar­co­leta et al are mak­ing the Philip­pines an in­ter­na­tional laugh­ing­stock by tak­ing to task the CHR for its sup­posed fail­ure to pro­tect the hu­man rights of vic­tims of crim­i­nal­ity. That is not the job of the CHR, but of law en­force­ment.

But if it is the po­lice or the mil­i­tary com­mit­ting atroc­i­ties, thereby tram­pling upon the rights of cit­i­zens, the CHR is duty-bound to in­ves­ti­gate and rec­om­mend the

On the other hand, the CHR must also live up to its con­sti­tu­tional man­date to be­come an “in­de­pen­dent of

Its chair­man, Jose Luis Martin Gas­con, is per­haps the most ra­bid par­ti­san ever to be ap­pointed head of the con­sti­tu­tional body, hav­ing man­aged the elec­tion cam­paigns of the erst­while rul­ing Lib­eral Party.

The anti-crime-and-cor­rup­tion body VACC, while back the hu­man rights com­mis­sion, made its po­si­tion clear that it is not for the abo­li­tion of the CHR, but only for a con­gres­sional review of its man­date. VACC Found­ing Chair­man Dante Jimenez ex­plained that the move of the House to gut the CHR bud­get would only af­fect funds for of CHR Chair­man Gas­con, not the salaries of its per­son­nel. “The CHR is not Gas­con. It is an in­sti­tu­tion pro­vided by the Con­sti­tu­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, you have a chair­man who has been politi­ciz­ing the com­mis­sion.”

the door. This means the CHR has to work painstak­ingly with the other or­gans of the state to im­prove the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try and con­tin­u­ously ed­u­cate gov­ern­ment per­son­nel on how to pro­tect th­ese rights.

It needs to en­gage the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion more, and dis­abuse it of any no­tion that the CHR is part of ef­forts to un­der­mine this gov­ern­ment. An in­abil­ity to put across this mes­sage as he per­forms this role should send a sig­nal to Gas­con it’s per­haps time for him to re­cuse him­self from the CHR chair­man­ship.

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