FUNNY how the 119 members of the House of Representatives who voted to give P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) next year are slowly but surely being exposed for their immature action. Even those who led government units that are usually subjected to scrutiny by the CHR even frowned on the act of the House majority (only 32 members opposed the pegging of the CHR budget at P1,000).
“CHR is a constitutional body, eh. Gawa ng batas ‘yan, constitution yan. The people there can’t be removed. It has the right to be funded.” Thats Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana speaking to reporters in an ambush interview. For Lorenzana, the existence of the CHR is important for checks and balances.
“For one, it keeps government officials, especially the military and police, na ingat sila sa ginagawa nila, because anything that they will do ay liable sila sa human rights violation. For check and balance,” he said.
Lorenzana, a former general, is even proud of the military’s relationship with the CHR, saying: “Iniimbita ko ‘yan noon para mag-lecture because people should be taught what is human rights sa constitution. Mayroon na nga tayong mga human rights sa units eh— we have a human rights representative in every unit of the AFP down to the company and battalion na sila naglelecture ng mga tao on human rights.”
Even the controversial chief of the Ozamiz City police, Jovie Espenido has a more mature appreciation of CHR’s role than the House majority. Espenido was in Cebu City as one of the guest speakers of the conference of the league of Mindanao barangay officials. Espenido reportedly said that the CHR should be respected because it can check the abuses committed by law enforcers. He wants the CHR, though not to focus on President Rodrigo Duterte but on individual violators.
If even the defense chief and the Ozamiz City police chief can be openminded about the role CHR plays in governance, what does that say of the minds of those who voted to appropriate a budget of P1,000 to the CHR? Or specifically, what does that say of the mind of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who famously told the CHR to seek funding from criminals instead?
Incidentally, efforts to deflect the widespread condemnation of the act is afoot, with the defenders of the House move focusing their guns on CHR Chief Chito Gascon. Some lawmakers led by Alvarez are telling Gascon to resign, with the implication that the original budget for the CHR would be given if he does. Obviously,
they want to use Gascon to save face, and he knows that. He won’t resign, he said, and would stay until his term ends in 2022.
Which brings me to former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr., father of the current Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. A human rights lawyer and a long-time legislator, Pimentel described the act of the House majority as “haughtily preposterous and unilaterally imposed” and a spiteful reaction “that (is) most likely borne out of anger that has no place in settling intra-civil disagreements between or among government agencies which are all mandated to serve the well-being of the people.”
It’s euphemism actually for immaturity and childi shness.