MANILA- Although the House of Representatives had second thoughts on imposing a P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the constitutional body still won't get its original proposed budget.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Karlo Nograles on Thursday said that while the House leadership will no longer push through with the massive budget cut for the CHR, it still cannot grant the P623.38-million budget proposal of the agency and will instead allot P508 million.
"There were certain cuts we had to make sa MOOE ( Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses)," Nograles told reporters. He said the CHR proposed a P678-million budget including retirement funds.
Lawmakers in the House earlier voted to slash the agency's budget to only P1,000, saying it failed to fulfill its mandate.
The budget slash of the CHR, an agency whose officials have been critical against alleged killings and human rights abuses under the administration's drug war, was met with widespread criticism.
Nograles said they reduced the traveling expenses of the agency and that the P115 million funding will instead be used to support the implementation of the free tertiary education law.
CHR Chairman Chito Gascon on Thursday attributed the budget restoration to public outrage over the lawmakers' decision.
He also maintained that he stood his ground during his meeting with the lawmakers.
"I told them hindi namin magagawa dahil hindi kami law enforcing institution," Gascon said.
ERC, NCIP BUDGETS RESTORED IN FULL
However, unlike the CHR, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will have their original budgets restored in full.
The ERC originally proposed a budget of P365 million while the NCIP sought a P1.132-billion budget.
Officials of the 3 agencies made a last-minute appeal to the House leadership on Wednesday for the restoration of their respective budgets.
Nograles said the NCIP "will ensure that they will protect the rights of the IP (Indigenous Peoples) sector" while the ERC budget will be restored in full since lawmakers believe that the dismissal of the agency's current chairman Jose Vicente Salazar is looming.
"I believe the dismissal of Salazar is forthcoming. It was decided by the Speaker that we will restore the budget of the ERC because we couldn't make [the] ERC suffer just because of one person," he said.
In the case of the CHR, Nograles said the agency and the House leadership are now "rebuilding" their relationship and the reduced budget will serve as a test.