CAGAYAN de Oro City representatives Maximo Rodriguez Jr. and Rolando Uy both failed to attend the House session on Tuesday, September 12, blaming bad weather for missing the voting.
"Wala ko ka-botar kay bagyo man to busa wala ko maka-attend sa session," Rodriguez, the city's 2nd District Representative, said.
The congressmen were left sitting on the proverbial fence in the controversial vote by the House of Representatives to allocate a paltry P1,000 annual budget for the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) for 2018.
But Rodriguez declined to say how he would have voted saying only that he missed the opportunity to get involved in debates and discussion on the matter at the plenary.
"Dili ko makaingon nga no or yes. Akong giingon nga walay opportunity nga magdebate," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said his colleagues at the House of Representatives should have debated the matter further and fairly discussed why the CHR should only be given the measly budget.
Rodriguez also said he had no idea about the extent and nature of the budget cut but said the commission’s supposed failure to fulfill mandate may have been the reason behind the drastic budget cut.
"Dapat gi-dibebatehan unta to ngano nga P1,000 raman. Ang ako is tan-awon nato unsa ang rason kay wala ko kabalo unsa ang rason. Akong gisuspectahan nga tungod sa EJK issue kay kining CHR mao man ang gaimbestigar," Rodriguez said.
But he insists that the CHR should be given ample budget because this is the government agency who does the check and balance to the actions of the law enforcers who may go beyond their mandate and abused their powers.
"Kung wala ang CHR unsay mahitbao sa katawhan kung malampas ilang katungod. Dapat natuki gyud unta to og maayo," Rodriguez added.
Congressman Uy said he was not able to vote because he was not in the plenary during the voting period.
"During the voting I was in my office, Wala ko sa plenary," Uy said in a text message.
He did not elaborate his position on the issue further.
On Tuesday, September 12, 119 representatives voted in favor of the move to slash the budget of the CHR to a thousand pesos from the Department of Budget's proposed P678 million.
Thirty two voted against the motion.
Sagip Partylist representative Rodante Marcoleta, an ally of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, made the motion to provide the CHR with only a P1,000 budget next year.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 14, 2017.