MANILA - The House of Representatives has approved a P1,000 budget for three government agencies for 2018 in plenary debates.
This represents a total budget slash of more than P2.1 billion from the total proposed funding for the agencies next year.
The revised proposals will next go through the Senate and the bicameral conference committee.
Here are the agencies facing massive budget cuts:
1. Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
The CHR had an initial proposed budget of P623.38 million, which was cut to P1,000 Tuesday amid its consistent criticism of the Duterte administration's anti-drug campaign.
The constitutional body is mandated to conduct investigations on human rights violations involving civil and political rights, including those allegedly committed by state agents.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez previously accused the CHR of protecting only the human rights of criminals and doing nothing for their victims.
2. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate moved to reduce the budget of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to P1,000 from its original budget of P1.132 billion, citing its failure to defend the rights of national minorities.
The plight of the Lumad was highlighted by the September 2015 killings of Emerito Samarca, head teacher of an award-winning school for Lumad youth in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo allegedly by paramilitary forces.
Lumad groups, some of whom are based in President Rodrigo Duterte’s home region, have pinned their hopes of justice and fair treatment on the firebrand leader, a self-proclaimed socialist.
However, the atmosphere has changed significantly as the feisty leader seemed to have had enough of the communists, who are being associated with Lumad groups.
Duterte previously threatened to bomb Lumad schools for allegedly spreading subversive ideas, which the military said it would not take literally.
As Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat pointed out that the minimum allowed budget should be in the thousands, the chamber ended up approving a P1,000 budget for the agency on Tuesday.
He clarified that the budget does not mean the agency would be abolished.
3. Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)
The agency, which had an original proposed budget of P365 million, has been the subject of investigations by the House Committee on Energy over a purportedly anomalous deal that allowed power distributor Manila Electric Co. to enter into power supply agreements (PSA) with its sister companies.
It is also under investigation by the House Committee on Good Government over the suicide of ERC official Francisco Villa Jr. for reportedly anomalous procurement practices under ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar.
The House approved its slashed budget on Sept. 5.
-- Reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News