Philippines awards their Human Rights Commission a whopping $20 budget for 2018

Elias Hubbard
September 13, 2017

"Notwithstanding the unsatisfactory, oft-criticized performance of the CHR in fulfilling its duties, the move is a solid uppercut created to worsen the Philippine human rights situation and bring the opposition further to its knees", the group said in a statement.

Critics of the anti-drugs campaign see the move as retaliation for the agency's criticism of Duterte and efforts to probe thousands of killings over the past 15 months.

Speaker of the House labelled the commission "useless".

At least 119 out of 151 lower house members present voted in favour of dramatically cutting the Commission on Human Rights' budget for 2018.

The budget requires Senate approval before it becomes final - which opponents say is likely, because President Duterte has a majority in the two chambers.

Despite its flaws, she added, Karapatan still sees "the recent attempts of the Duterte administration to de facto abolish the CHR as a risky step that undermines available mechanisms for redress for human rights violations in this so-called democratic form of government". Past year the commission received $14.7 million and it had asked for $34 million in 2018.

The CHR, which investigates the drug killings, has previously come under fire from Duterte himself, who threatened to abolish it. "Why should you get budget from the government?"

More than 7,000 people have been killed since President Duterte launched his war on drugs past year, according to Human rights group Amnesty International.

"The principal reason why I can not resign my office is that to do so is to weaken the institution itself", Gascon said. However, the brutal campaign has maintained the support of many Filipinos exhausted of drug-driven crime in the country.

However, activists say the prime targets have been users and small-time peddlers and accuse police of executing thousands of people.

"I am also shocked by President Duterte's threat to bomb schools for indigenous children in the southern Philippines, which he said were teaching children to rebel against the government", Zeid said. He said he would take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Human rights advocates hope senators will restore the agency's current budget.

Lawmakers may have misunderstood the agency's role, said one representative, Raul del March.

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said Filipinos deserved a strong, independent rights organization that could hold the state accountable.

Mourners display a streamer during a funeral march for Kian delos Santos, a 17-year-old student who was shot during anti-drug operations in Caloocan, Metro Manila, Philippines August 26, 2017.

Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said the overwhelming support for the cut was "part of the Duterte administration's attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses".

Additional reporting from Reuters.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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