The CHR bud­get

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

AF­TER the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed its ver­sion of the an­nual bud­get for next year amount­ing to P3.767 tril­lion, it looks like the ma­jor­ity that ap­pro­pri­ated an in­sult­ing P1,000 bud­get for the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) is in for a big re­al­ity check: that among ma­jor­ity of Filipinos, de­cency still rules. Those law­mak­ers felt so em­pow­ered by their hold of the ma­jor­ity in the House they thought they could ride roughshod over the val­ues we hold dear, the demo­cratic sys­tem we paid for with our blood, sweat and tears to set up and the in­ter­est and rights of sec­tors and in­di­vid­u­als we fought hard to pro­tect.

What the House ma­jor­ity did (I stress the word “ma­jor­ity” be­cause there are still a num­ber of de­cent mem­bers in the House) is the cul­mi­na­tion of months of de­mo­niza­tion of the CHR and the prin­ci­ple of hu­man rights. More im­por­tantly, it shows the height of the ar­ro­gance and shame­less­ness of those who are cur­rently wield­ing po­lit­i­cal power.

What amazes me is the gall and the tim­ing of the deed. It came days af­ter the furor erupted over the killing of mi­nors Kian de­los San­tos and Carlo Ar­naiz, an episode in law en­force­ment that showed a lack of re­spect for due process and the rights of the mi­nors vic­tim­ized--events that proved the im­por­tance of hav­ing a body that would guard against the ex­cesses and abuses of the state and its in­stru­men­tal­i­ties.

But I could sense some­thing pos­i­tive in what the ma­jor­ity in the House did, be­cause it has sparked a back­lash that is in­ten­si­fy­ing by the day. It’s no longer just the usual crit­ics of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion or the “di­lawans” that are up in arms over it. Ev­ery­where, in so­cial me­dia and in tra­di­tional me­dia, the House ma­jor­ity is get­ting a beat­ing, while those who op­posed the move, like Cebu Reps. Raul del Mar, Wilfredo Caminero and Aileen Radaza, are be­ing praised.

What the House ma­jor­ity may have for­got­ten is that strug­gles do not in­ten­sify in a jiffy but is a process, build­ing up by in­cre­ments, grow­ing with every ex­cess and abuse seen by the peo­ple in the state and its in­stru­men­tal­i­ties. The 1986 Edsa peo­ple power up­ris­ing was but the explosion of pent-up emo­tions that in­ten­si­fied in the two decades of ex­cesses and abuse com­mit­ted by the dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos through­out his rule.

The op­po­si­tion to the ar­ro­gance of the House ma­jor­ity is still weak but it is grow­ing, and I think a seg­ment of the Duterte camp has re­al­ized this. The furor has pushed many sen­a­tors to prom­ise to cor­rect the wrong done. “I hap­pen to be the spon­sor of the CHR bud­get in the Se­nate, along with a few other agen­cies like the DND (Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense), ARMM (Au­tunomous Re­gion in Mus­lim Min­danao), etc. I ac­cept the chal­lenge,” Sen. Pan­filo Lac­son, who vowed to fight for a big­ger CHR bud­get, told the Philip­pine Daily In­quirer. He is joined by some other mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity bloc in the Se­nate plus those in the mi­nor­ity.

If the House ma­jor­ity move is even­tu­ally cor­rected and the CHR bud­get is re­stored fol­low­ing the strong op­po­si­tion that has been gen­er­ated, wouldn’t that be a slap on the faces of those who were be­hind the con­demnable act?

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