PH risks 'international embarrassment' with rights budget cut

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2017 04:47 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2017 06:07 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines risks "international embarrassment" with a P1,000 human rights budget as it faces a United Nations body concerned over widespread drug-related killings next week, one of its commissioners said Thursday.

The meager budget is contrary to the Philippine report in May vowing to strengthen the promotion of human rights through improved legislative support and funding.

Forty-five countries belonging to the UN Human Rights Council urged the Philippines to put an end to extrajudicial killings.

Four of them - Spain, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Australia - urged the Philippine government to provide more support for its Commission on Human Rights (CHR), especially in investigating the killings.

But just a week before the Philippines reports back to the Geneva-based council on Sept. 22, the House of Representatives slashed the CHR budget to P1,000 from the original P623.38-million proposal for 2018, a move seen as an effort to force the commission's chairman to quit.

The revised budget proposal is set to go through deliberations at the Senate and the bicameral conference committee. 

Several senators have vowed to restore the commission's budget. 

"It's going to be an international embarrassment," CHR Commissioner Karen Dumpit told ABS-CBN News.

Asked whether the human rights situation in the Philippines had worsened between May and September, Dumpit cited "one-time, big-time" police operations which killed at least 80 people just days apart last month.

Among the victims was teenager Kian Loyd Delos Santos, whose slay sparked public outrage and intensified scrutiny of the government's drug war.

Police linked the 17-year-old in the drug trade and claimed he fired at pursuing officers during a drug raid in Caloocan City on Aug. 16. Witness statements and forensic evidence meanwhile indicate he was murdered

"This is something that does not augur well for the universal periodic review of the Philippines," Dumpit said.

"What matters is the government must address this situation and they must do so to the fullest of their powers," she added.