PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte was not surprised that majority of lawmakers at the House of Representatives favored the P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
At a press conference held early Wednesday morning, the President denied that he instructed the lawmakers to give the CHR a measly budget of P1,000 for 2018.
Duterte pinned the blame on CHR chairperson Chito Gascon over the House’s move to slash the commission’s budget to only a thousand pesos from the Budget department’s proposed P678 million.
He said Gascon earned the ire of the congressmen because “he opens his mouth in a most inappropriate way.”
He also slammed Gascon, who he called “stupid,” for favoring the “yellow," a political color of opposition Liberal Party.
“Gascon, since he is pro-yellow, he opens his mouth in a most inappropriate way and he conducts the business of being CHR. He does not know everything,” the President said after his visit to a slain soldier's wake at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
“If you are not sure of yourself or where you stand, you might as well just maybe shut up. Now, Congress gave his office P1,000 because Congress was infuriated at him,” he added.
On Tuesday, 119 lawmakers voted to allocate P1,000 budget for CHR for next year while 32 voted against the proposal.
The CHR received the meager budget as it has been critical of the Duterte administration’s deadly drug crackdown that has already claimed the lives of thousands of suspected drug personalities.
The P1,000 budget for CHR, however, is still subject to possible changes since it will be deliberated by the Bicameral Conference Committee to reconcile with the Senate’s proposed budget for the commission.
Under Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, the CHR is mandated to “investigate, on its own or on a complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights.”
Duterte, however, lashed out at Gascon’s supposed impartiality in investigating the administration’s brutal crackdown on narcotics trade while ignoring the hostilities perpetrated by Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute extremists.
“The human rights will not investigate the Maute or the IS. The Human Rights Commission is geared to investigate government abuses and mistakes, shortcomings, whatever,” the President said.
“They cannot just investigate. They do not have prosecutorial power,” he added.
Despite his grievances against the CHR, Duterte agreed that the House should look into its decision to give a P1,000 budget for the commission for next year.
“Since it is really an organ of government, it’s in the Constitution, maybe someday, they (lawmakers) might take their decision. I’m not here to destroy institutions,” he said.(SunStar Philippines)