Bunye: Abuse of 'power of the purse'

HE MAY not be a lawyer. But Delfin Lorenzana certainly knows what is constitutional and what is not. In defense of the Commission on Human Rights, Lorenzana said the CHR is a constitutional body and as such must be adequately provided for.

Lorenzana was reacting to the recent decision of the House of Representatives to approve a P1,000-a-year budget for the agency. Those who similarly oppose the congressional action, view it as a virtual abolition of the agency.

Oppositors maintain that the abolition of the CHR cannot be done via ordinary legislation. It can only be done by an amendment of the 1987 Constitution itself.

The administration's move to abolish the CHR has been an open secret. No less than President Duterte has mentioned in various speeches/interviews that CHR should be abolished.

As far as the President is concerned, the CHR has been selective in his human rights advocacy and a very severe critic of the war against drugs. And that, to the President, is a mortal sin.

Whether he admits it or not, Speaker Alvarez is simply following the script from Malacanang, which, in reality, ultimately controls the power of the purse. But short of abolition of the CHR, the House of Representatives can still change its mind. That is, if CHR Chair Chito Gascon were willing to resign. However, Gascon, sensing public support for the CHR, is not prepared to oblige Alvarez.

So what happens next?

All appropriation bills must originate from the House of Representatives. Fortunately, the Senate can either concur or propose amendments. In other words, the Senate can come up with its version of the CHR budget.

This early, the likes of Senator Lacson have vowed to give the CHR the budget that it deserves.

In the end, both houses of Congress -- the House of Representatives and the Senate, must agree to agree.

But unless somebody blinks, we appear headed for a legislative deadlock which could even jeopardize the entire 2018 budget.

I don't think Alvarez and the President's staunchest Congressional loyalists can afford that.

10th most stressful city

Every now and then, we make it to the 10 worst list. The latest was our inclusion among the world's ten most stressful cities.

Manila recently earned the 10th spot in this dubious list. In fairness, to Mayor Erap, the distinction should not be owned by his city alone but should be shared by most of Metro Manila.

The average daily commute of Metro Manilans, with cars, is a minimum of three hours. Thanks to the horrendous traffic practically everywhere one goes. For those who take public transport, the average commute can go up to four hours. Those are for days when the TNT is running regularly.

TNT? A new nickname coined by my favorite news commentator for MRT.

It simply means Tigil Nang Tigil.

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