Office of the Vice President
September 14, 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday lauded the response of numerous Filipinos to the vote of the House of Representatives giving the Commission on Human Rights a measly P1,000 for its 2018 budget.
VP Leni, who earlier expressed grave concern at the budget cut, said the strong public objection to the House action is crucial to keeping public officials and institutions accountable.
“Tingin ko tama lang iyong reaksyon ng publiko, kasi alam niyo, nangyayari iyong pang-aabuso ng gobyerno kapag hindi tayo nagsasalita,” she told reporters during a turnover of donations in Balangkayan, Eastern Samar. “Tama na kapag mayroong mali na nakikita, iboboses, kasi ito iyong magpapaalala sa ating mga opisyal na mayroon parating limitasyon iyong kapangyarihan na ibinibigay sa atin.”
The Vice President, a public interest lawyer by profession, underscored anew the importance and mandate of the CHR, which was created under the 1987 Constitution as a result of the experience during the Marcos dictatorship. The CHR is tasked to investigate human rights abuses, or those committed by agents of the State.
She noted that the police and the courts are assigned to handle crimes committed by ordinary citizens, a power that, from previous historical experience, may be taken advantage of.
“Siyempre hindi tayo happy [sa desisyon ng Kamara]. Iyong Commission on Human Rights, constitutionally-created na body iyon, at alam natin iyong history kung bakit siya kinreate,” she said.
“[I]yong pinakamandato ng CHR, siya iyong mag-iimbestiga ng lahat ng pang-aabuso ng karapatang pantao ng mga alagad ng Estado … Napaka-powerful ng estado, so kailangan may special body na nag-aasikaso,” she said. “Kung aalisan natin ng kapangyarihan iyong Commission on Human Rights, saan na dudulog iyong mga nagiging biktima ng karahasan noong Estado?”
Earlier, VP Leni urged the public to keep a close eye on the process in Congress, as the agency’s budget will still be up for deliberations in the Senate, where several members have vowed to stand by the CHR’s P678-million proposed budget.
“Umaasa tayong mananaig ang nararapat sa ipapasang budget,” she said in a statement released Wednesday. “Sabay-sabay tayong maging mapagmatyag sa magaganap na proseso.”
“Itinakda ng ating Saligang Batas na dapat manatiling prayoridad ang pagprotekta sa karapatang pantao, lalo na ng mahihirap at walang kapangyarihan. Katungkulan nating pagtibayin ang prinsipyong ito, alang-alang sa kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino,” she added.