MANILA (UPDATE) - All is not lost for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as some senators vowed to ensure that it still gets its budget, and not the proposed P1,000 fund that lawmakers from the House of Representatives have voted on Tuesday.
Several senators said they will oppose the proposed budget cut on CHR, an agency mandated to probe human rights violations against marginalized and vulnerable sectors of the society.
Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero said he will fight to restore the budget of the CHR, "however inconvenient it may be for some."
Senator Bam Aquino said CHR must be allowed to do its job, amid "numerous deaths and reports of police abuses."
For Sen. JV Ejercito, the CHR is a necessity and reminded that the Constitution mandates it.
Sen. Ping Lacson said the issue will cross party lines but believes they will get enough support in the bicameral conference committee.
On Monday, the Senate finance committee, which Lacson chairs, approved a P678 million CHR budget for 2018, which includes a P28.565 million budget for the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission.
Sen. Sonny Angara reminded that it was the CHR that made the discovery of a secret jail inside the station 1 of the Manila Police District in April.
The hidden jail illegally detained people waiting for "ransom" to be released.
Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan also promised to oppose the lower house's approved budget.
Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, meanwhile pointed out an earlier promise of the administration to provide funding for the CHR.
In a tweet, she recalled how government had promised to augment the commission's budget from P439 million to P724 million, and that the administration has begun drafting a human rights action plan for the next 5 years.
On Tuesday, 119 members of the House of Representatives voted to give the CHR a budget of P1,000.
Despite the meager amount, CHR said it will not turn its back on its Constitutional duty and continues to believe that “the concern for human rights is beyond partisanship or disagreement.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly criticized the CHR for calling out his war on drugs campaign and other controversial statements.
-- Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News