September 13, 2017
The Senate will restore the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to the P678 million amount which its committee on finance approved on Monday.
"The sentiment of the Senate, I think (is) P600 million ( plus). They have nothing to worry about," said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to grant the CHR a budget of P1,000 from the agency's proposed P678 million.
Pimentel's position was echoed by Senators Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Chiz Escudero, Bam Aquino and Leila de Lima, a former CHR chairman.
"I will work to restore an appropriate and adequate budget for the CHR. I am not just talking about the chairman, whom I respect, but also the membership of the commission," said Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
"They may not agree with the government all the time but that is their role - to expose possible abuses. And we should embrace that. It also behooves the human rights commission to project a neutral stand in all their statements and appearances." added Gordon.
Pimentel said the Senate will not make it a condition for Gascon to resign before the budget of the CHR is restored, as some congressmen have suggested.
"We don't that kind of condition in the Senate so do not ask me to adopt a new position or justify the position of a certain body. In the Senate, they get P600 million plus," said Pimentel.
Pimentel said a deadlock can occur when the 2018 budget goes to the bicameral conference committee, President Rodrigo Duterte has the final say on this.
Escudero said the CHR "is a constitutional imperative and a necessity, however inconvenient it may be for some. I will fight to restore its budget."
The Senate Committee on Finance approved on the panel level on Sept. 11 the CHR's proposed budget of P678 million, which is lower than its P749 million budget last year.
Aquino said the Constitution says there must be a CHR that will serve as check and balance on other branches of government. DMS
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