Bu­tuan res­i­dents com­mend Caraga law­mak­ers for vot­ing against CHR bud­get cuts

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Top Stories - By Er­win M. Mas­car­iñas Cor­re­spon­dent

Bu­tuan City – Res­i­dents and groups from dif­fer­ent parts of the Caraga Re­gion hailed the stand of two of its law­mak­ers on the pro­posed P1,000 bud­get of the Com­mis­sion of Hu­man Rights (CHR) next year.

The two law­mak­ers from Caraga Re­gion namely Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Lawrence For­tun of the 1st Dis­trict of Agu­san del Norte and Las Nieves and Ar­lene Bag-ao of the is­land prov­ince of Di­na­gat, were among the 32 rep­re­sen­ta­tives that voted against the mo­tion of SAGIP Partylist Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ro­dante Mar­co­leta to give the CHR a P1,000 bud­get for 2018.

“I am proud of the two mem­bers of Con­gress from Caraga Re­gion who chose to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion by op­pos­ing the P 1,000 bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the CHR,” said Lawyer Josefa Sor­rera-Ty, Dean of the Col­lege of Law at the Fa­ther Saturnino Urios Univer­sity (FSUU) and a Cer­ti­fied Pub­lic Ac­coun­tant based in Bu­tuan City.

Sor­rera-Ty said the CHR is an in­de­pen­dent Na­tional Hu­man Rights In­sti­tu­tion (NHRI) cre­ated un­der the 1987 Philip­pine Con­sti­tu­tion, es­tab­lished on May 5, 1987 by virtue of Ex­ec­u­tive Order No. 163.

She said the P1,000 bud­get al­lo­ca­tion is a clear vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion for it emas­cu­lates the CHR and pre­vents it to per­form its con­sti­tu­tional man­date of pro­tect­ing the hu­man rights of the Filipinos.

Lawyer Den­nis M. Ba­cala, In­te­grated Bar of the Philip­pines (IBP) gover­nor for Eastern Min­danao, pointed out how shocked he was of the news.

“It was ut­terly shock­ing for Con­gress when it de­cided to give the CHR P 1,000 bud­get for 2018 show­ing ar­ro­gance and con­tempt to an in­de­pen­dent of­fice cre­ated un­der the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion of the Philip­pines. How could it pos­si­bly carry its Con­sti­tu­tional func­tions with such an amount,” Ba­cala asked.

Ba­cala said the con­gress­men who voted for the pro­posed bud­get showed bad judg­ment in­stead of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, in­ap­pro­pri­ate

com­port­ment in­stead of class.

“The rep­re­sen­ta­tives who voted did not only jeop­ar­dize the agency’s op­er­a­tional ex­penses, but also the salary of its em­ploy­ees, even the re­tire­ment ben­e­fits of those who are sched­uled to re­tire,” said Ba­cala on a state­ment which he posted on his so­cial me­dia ac­count.

For­tun in a phone in­ter­view ex­pressed that he is over­whelmed by the peo­ple who mes­saged him their sup­port but said he felt sad on how the vot­ing in Con­gress turned out.

“As a con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sion, it is an in­de­pen­dent body that is sup­posed to have fis­cal au­ton­omy. Con­gress should re­spect the man­date of the CHR and as law­mak­ers we should help in strength­en­ing and not weaken the in­sti­tu­tion; the best way to go should be to ad­dress the de­fi­cien­cies of this con­sti­tu­tional in­sti­tu­tion,” said For­tun.

For­tun ex­plained that if there is de­fi­ciency within the CHR it should have been ad­dressed through bet­ter bud­get.

“If you think there are short­com­ings within the CHR then put more bud­get on it for the in­sti­tu­tion would be able to func­tion prop­erly, weak­en­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional in­sti­tu­tion is not the way to go,” said the law­maker.

For­tun added that, “I hope this in­ci­dent will not tar­nish the im­age of Con­gress, and I hope the Filipino peo­ple would not be too quick to judge our fel­low law­mak­ers. I be­lieve that there are still mem­bers of the house that is driven af­ter the wel­fare of its peo­ple and its con­stituents. It might be painful for me to look at the very in­sti­tu­tion that I stand for go on this path, but I firmly be­lieve that there is still hope for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

Stu­dent Groups Ex­press Sup­port

Re­na­lyn Te­jero, chair­per­son of the Stu­dent Chris­tian Move­ment of Caraga State Univer­sity (CSU) ex­pressed the sen­ti­ment from their or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“We laud our rep­re­sen­ta­tives for their stand on op­pos­ing the call to de­fund CHR. Th­ese law­mak­ers have lis­tened to the clamor of their poor con­stituents de­prived of their rights. The shame­less move of Duterte’s su­per­ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to al­lo­cate 1,000 for such govern­ment agency is tan­ta­mount to abo­li­tion of a con­sti­tu­tional body and is a full-blown dis­re­gard to hu­man rights,” said Te­jero.

In­cluded on the list cir­cu­lat­ing on the In­ter­net, an­other law­maker from Caraga Re­gion was men­tioned. Eve­lyn Mel­lana of the 2nd Dis­trict of Agu­san del Sur was in­cluded as part of those who voted no but staff from her of­fice in Agu­san del Sur failed to ver­ify on the said list.

As of press time, hun­dreds of postS on the so­cial me­dia on the ex­pressed their ad­mi­ra­tion and sup­port on the stand of For­tun and Bag-oa, as well as calls to rally be­hind the law­mak­ers from cy­ber bul­ly­ing and at­tacks on so­cial me­dia.

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