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Congressional feud looms

House, Senate on a collision course over P1,000 CHR budget for 2018

Published

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives is gearing for a head-on collision with the Senate to defend its P1,000 allocation for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez declared Thursday.

Interviewed over DZMM by broadcast journalist Ted Failon, Alvarez said senators cannot always impose their will on the issue, adding that the Lower House will insist on using its power of the purse to stand by its decision.

Alvarez has been vocal about his criticism of the CHR and had, in fact, declared that the beleaguered constitutional body will get its comeuppance for strongly criticizing the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war and for failing to help defend the human rights of civilians against drug-crazed murderers and terrorists.

The House official’s stand was strongly backed in the plenary when 119 congressmen, acting on a motion by 1Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, approved a P1,000 CHR budget in 2018. At least 32 opposed the motion.

Reps. Henedina Abad (LP, Batanes), Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC Partylist), Ruffy Biazon (LP, Muntinlupa City), and Vilma Santos (LP, Batangas), all members of the Alvarez-led supermajority bloc, said they would have joined the “nay” side had they been present during the voting last Tuesday.

While the House allocated only P1,000, the Senate Committee on Finance approved the P678-million allocation sought by the CHR.

Several Senate members, including Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson, vowed to restore the CHR budget to the original proposal.

“Ako iginagalang ko ang Senado pero hindi po basta yun ang gusto ng Senado yun ang masusunod. Yun lang po ang masasabi ko diyan (I respect the Senate but not everything that they willed shall be granted. That’s all I can say about it),” Alvarez said, reacting to the Senate’s move to approve the budget sought by the CHR.

Alvarez, a lawyer, pointed out that the Constitution mandates that the power of the purse belongs to the Lower House, adding that this is the reason all appropriation measures should originate exclusively in the chamber.

Despite his strong criticism of the CHR, especially its chairman Chito Gascon, Alvarez hinted of a compromise with the Senate during the deliberations of the bicameral conference committee to reconcile the different versions of the 2018 budget approved by the House and the Senate.

“Puwede po kaming mag-usap doon. Pero hindi pupwede kung ano yung gusto nila yun ang susundin namin (We can talk. But we cannot just give in to what they want us to do),” he said.

The House official explained that the House slapped CHR with a P1,000 budget for its failure to perform its mandate to protect the human rights of all Filipinos.

He chided the agency for not following to the letter its mandate under Article XIII, Section 18, paragraph 1, that tasks it to “investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights.”

According to Alvarez, the CHR is also mandated to “provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the under-privileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection.”

These constitutional provisions, according to Alvarez, clearly show CHR is mistaken in its notion that its mandate is to check only human rights abuses committed by the police, military, or other agents of the government.

Alvarez said that as representatives of the people, the House has the responsibility to hold CHR accountable for not doing its job.

Public fund drive

Should Congress insist on a P1,000, opposition congressmen and a group of human rights lawyers expressed support for a public fund drive to augment the CHR budget.

“I’m studying it (holding a public fund drive),” said Ifugao lone district Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., de facto leader of the “Magnificent Seven” opposition bloc.

“I hope I can have partners who can help plan it,” added Baguilat, a Liberal Party (LP) member and three-term congressman.

Artikulo 3 Human Rights Alliance, Inc., simply known as Artikulo 3, called for a public fund drive to support the operations of the CHR. The group’s board include former Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, former senator Rene Saguisag, former Environment secretary Fulgencio Factoran, and other human lawyers during the martial law era. The veteran human rights lawyers, members of the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, and Nationalism (MABINI) during martial law, teamed up with younger lawyers to form Artikulo 3. The group’s name was based on Article 3, the Bill of Rights, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Lawyer Hilda Clave, president of Artikulo 3, criticized Speaker Alvarez and the 119 congressmen who voted to allocate a measly P1,000 budget for CHR.

“Speaker Alvarez is taking the country down the road of tyranny, where the Constitution is treated as a mere scrap of paper, independent institutions are shackled, and the people’s right to live in dignity are sacrificed in the name of the ongoing drug war which has resulted in several extra judicial killings,” Clave, representing the group, said.

“I will support any fund drive to support the CHR,” said another Magnificent Seven lawmaker in Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano.

“Sa panahon ngayon na may malawakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao, kailangan natin ng matibay na CHR (During these times of widespread human rights abuses, we need a strong CHR),” Alejano, a former Marine captain, said.

Akbayan Party-List Rep. Tom Villarin, another opposition congressman, gave thumbs up to such fund drive efforts but nonetheless stressed that it’s Congress’s role to allocate a workable fund for CHR and other agencies of such nature.

“The effort by the public is much appreciated but it is the duty of Congress to appropriate funds to a constitutional body. Failure to do so would be a violation of our Constitution and is repugnant in our democracy.

“Our citizens should hold their elected representatives accountable as it is their taxes that pay for them,” Villarin said.

AKO-Bicol Party-List Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a solon from the Supermajority, also welcomed a public fund drive for the CHR.

“That would be a symbolic move to show support to the CHR as an institution and underscore its importance in our democratic process,” he said.

Batocabe, president of the 46-member Party-List Coalition (PLC), had earlier said that appropriating P1,000 for the CHR would give the Philippines a “bad image.”

Artikulo 3 said the CHR is a constitutional body and the actions of the House “violates the Constitution which enshrines respect and protection of human rights.”

“We, therefore, appeal to the Filipino people who value human rights and democracy to contribute to a fund to support the operations of the CHR, which is a government agency created and provided under Article 13, Section 17 of the Philippine Constitution,” Clave stated.

The group cited Section 1 of Article 13 mandating Congress “to give highest priority to the enactment that protect and enhance the rights of the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political iniquities, and remove cultural iniquities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.” (With reports from Ellson A. Quismorio, Martin A. Sadongdong, and Chito A. Chavez)

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  • joey

    ITONG SI “PANTALON ALVAREZ” ANG BWISITAT DEMONYO SA COGRESO TANDAAN MO NA MAY PENDING CASE KA PA KAYA PALA SOBRA AND SIPSIP MO KAY DUTAE PARA MA BURA YUNG KASO MO GAGO KA MAY ARAW KA DIN DISHONEST CORRUPT STUPID POLITICIAN SCUM OF THE EARTH

    • leomar101

      oo naman may araw sila lahat. Katulad ni laila deputa dumating din ang araw, si Bautista dumating din ang araw n amalaman na nakanakaw siya ng 1 bilyon, si trillanes darating din ang araw. heheheheh who could have thought of this beautiful day that all those criminals, corrupt LP will be put to jail one day? hahahahaha

      • ej1015

        hangang 3 years lang si dodirty…kaya mag isip-isip kayo!

        • rollyfockz

          weeeehhhhh…. as if naman may naniniwala pa sa mga dilaw…. doble kayod mga manggugulo….

        • leomar101

          Akala sabi ni trillanes ay hanggang last May lang si Duterte, bwahahahahah, Tapos hanggang September. Oo naman makita ng mammayan kung paano lahat ng issue ay binabato kay Duterte sa pamagitan ni hontiVirus at Offshore bank account master trillanes. hahahaha. Aba dagdagan pa ninyo ang inyong efforts m ga aso. Ng makit aninyo ang galit ng buong bansa at upakan kayo mga OBSTRUCTIONIST. bring it on ng makit aninyo kung paano ninyo matrikman ang galit ng mamayan sa inyo. hahahahahah

  • tarikan

    The underlying anger of Speaker Alvarez (perhaps just echoing PRRD’s anger) towards the CHR is the latter’s criticism of the way war on drugs was being implemented. And everybody knows that PRRD does not like any criticism at all. He thinks he is the grandchild of God, infallible also. Pero nalusutan ng 1,815 kgs. of shabu excluding the 605 kgs. they are talking about now in the senate.

    • Jose Samilin

      He is not a grandchild of God. God allowed to call Him, “Father or Abba.”

      • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

        spoken like a true religious and political fanatic

        • Jose Samilin

          Do you think President Duterte is not a religious person? So you know the truth about him and all-knowing about his being in the mystery of God creation? Are you that smart bestowed by God or from the evil one, the Demon?

          PRRD believed in the true living God and acting straight as God commanded, not in the sense of hypocrisy. That is why you and others who are plastic and therefore hypocrite has no more place in this society, you could run but there is no place for you to hide. That is partly manifested by the over whelming support from the people of good conscience, 82% rating as God planted to him love even while he was still in the womb of his mother. People of goodwill, now consider him the most loving and most caring president we ever had, a genuine love truly came from God alone, and not from others.

          • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

            how much weed are u smoking?….

            wow.. guess they hired a semi religious person as a troll… they are diverse trolls to con different type of demographic

          • Jose Samilin

            You are so confused, no rationality as a decent man. Pretend to be smart and all-knowing, but empty or moron. His words are filthy, not worth talking to this guy, furion. Sorry Sir, Bye!!

  • Paking

    Tyranny means cruel and oppressive government or rule.

    What Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress did to CHR is clearly an act of tyranny. If this is how Congress will act in accordance to the will of Idioterte then its time to clip the wings of Alvarez and his 119 lapdogs before they do more damage to the country.

  • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

    Alvarez is a not only a f imbecile but a f king bully… more arrogant and shameless than any other politicians in our history

    we should be thankful he is not a pres.. f c k r

    • Jose Samilin

      Straight forward Alvarez is following what is prescribed by the Constitution (Art.xiii, Sec 18) and its repercussion when violated is to make sure those agencies are accountable for their performance. Now, furion, please speak out for truth and a rational man, or you are a mere connivance in violating the law?

      • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

        accountable for performance?… the whole government are under performing…
        every single government agencies are under performing.. public services are under performing or not even being provided.. so does that mean we abolish the Philippine government, the PNP, LTO, BOC, DOJ, NBI etc etc etc

        and since the whole government is corrupt to the core and does not provide any public service.. can we not pay taxes?

        and if they have issues with a person.. they should not attack the entire agency…

        we have an imbecile House Rep.. how about we abolish the House of thieves then..

        • Jose Samilin

          Your views of all agencies under performing is the reality pf the past as truly manifested in the lives and sentiment of the people prior to the coming of PRRD administration. On the 100 days of Duterte’s administration the rate of performance
          greatly improved and non-performing agencies bared by proper authorities, of which Congress speaks and acted within the premise of the law. In the performance evaluation, they were done professionally and objectively, that precludes personal characteristics, but focus on work performance. That is what had resulted when an agency worked for self and for others and not for the government, disregarding mandate of the law and due diligence at work, not knowing the people they serve is the mirror of their performance. Immediately, authorities correctly identified non-performing agencies, as follows: CHR, ERC, etc., etc.

          furion, your time to justify your views, as it is not enough to irrationally identify them as non-performing agencies, as you might be found a very poor forecaster. Go!!

          • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

            the only reason CHR is so critical with the current admin was all due to the policy “War on drugs”…

            how is that the current admin are performing well?

            the PNP that murdered espinosa got promoted
            the NBI that planted drugs got punished by doing push up
            the PNP that murdered the Korean .. etc ect

            current admin and the past admin are the same… corrupt still persist.. and the curernt could have cleaned up the PNP and NBI first before giving them the license to kill or murder..

            and what about selective justice?.. when police commit crimes.. they are punished by promotion, slip on the wrist, due process. When corrupt politicians can get away with anything..

            dont talk about positive changes in the current admin.. there is no positive change.. the corruption just changed its political color and a different political party… but it still remain the same..

            wake up before it too late…

          • Jose Samilin

            Same as above, you failed to indicate who made the authoritative evaluation, to prove your views.

            You see you prove nothing of your views of your said agencies that failed, NBI, PNP, BOC, etc.,etc. That means you are only good at hearsays, which is never acceptable in any argument. So you are among many who just love to open your mouth while all dirt are getting to it. When you write please do it in correct English grammar and not the level or order list of a milk man.

          • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

            heresay?..

            i have done business with f king BOC… they wont release anything without grease money even if all papers complete..

            NBI… there is video evidence of them planting drugs..

            PNP?… do i need to elaborate more?…

            f u troll.. go pray to your god.. satan .. troll

          • Jose Samilin

            Me too, I’m desperate with corruption going on at BOC, but I am not or you yourself can make an authoritative evaluation to render BOC not performing agency

          • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

            the f king house removed plunder from death penalty bill…

            that already is a confession that they are plunders..

            and they even put it under confidential vote… how can u say that they are good? ALVARES and his 119 are 100% corrupt, greedy, shameless and arrogant..

          • Jose Samilin

            A single incident is merely part of an agency, where is the authoritative pronouncement of agency failure. I don’t have to coach you?

          • furion, i am ANTI-CORRUPTION

            if they are f king believe they are doing good..

            i want to see the list of names that removed plunder from DP bill

            i want to see the 119 f king reps names…

            they should not hide their names if they think the are on the side of rigtheous

          • Jose Samilin

            This is your chance to prove yourself to me authoritatively according to your views, don’r ask me, you need to harness your resources.

  • angrycitizen

    I fully support the HoR’s move to give CHR a 1k budget for 2018. Alavarez st. al, you guys are doing great! Don’t give in to the Senate and do my taxes justice. Do not let CHR waste my taxes on their stupeed anti-government, pro-yellow agenda.

  • Mario Santos

    I support the House of Representatives to cut down the budget for this useless CHR. Those Senators who politicised this issue and support the CHR they should provide funds/budget from their own funds/budget.

  • Mike_Realism

    Too much drama…..worst thing could happen is a re-enactment of the budget which is still a win situation for the CHR. Although they want to see Gascon out of the Commission.

    • Jose Samilin

      That is correct, CHR is an indispensable agency of the Philippine government. Gascon is the wrong person.