CHR chief unfazed by P72.9-M cut in rights body's budget

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2017 10:42 AM

Commission on Human Rights chair Chito Gascon on Friday said the P72.9 million decrease in their agency's budget next year is not a sign of the administration's declining support for the human rights body.

"The reduction we got this year was in capital outlay, but to be fair, both in personnel services and operating expenses, there is a slight increase that's been proposed," Gascon said in an interview on ANC's Early Edition.

"Last year they gave us a P100 million infrastructure budget. The presumption is that's already been spent for its purpose so we don't need that large amount in capital outlay expenditures," he said.

Gascon said the CHR's funds for personnel services and operating expenses was increased by P27 million.

The human rights chief also noted that budget for the witness protection program significantly increased under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

"In the last year of the Aquino administration, our budget for the witness protection program was only P500,000. In the first year of the Duterte administration, we got a bump of P8 million to our witness protection program," he said.

But Gascon attributed the additional funds "through the intervention of people in the Senate" who recognized the need to boost the CHR's budget due to the ongoing "human rights crisis".

"It's increased in the last year because there is a human rights crisis... the institutions that should address them should be equipped and empowered," Gascon said.

On Monday, President Duterte threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights. 

"We view it with concern. (But) We are thankful that the spokesperson clarified that the president made the statements out of frustration," Gascon said.

"It is part of our system of government. If there is any proposal to abolish, that should be discussed in any constitutional reform process," he added.

Officials from the CHR and the European Union, who were vocal critics of Duterte's bloody war on drugs, were not invited to the President's second state of the nation address.