The CHR budget
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?