THREE Cebuano lawmakers were among the 32 congressmen who voted against giving the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a budget of P1,000 for 2018.
Representatives Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district, Aileen Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City and Wilfredo Caminero of Cebu’s 2nd district stressed that the CHR plays a vital role in a democratic country.
Del Mar said giving the CHR a budget of only P1,000 for 2018 is like crippling and eventually killing the constitutional body.
“Its functions are misunderstood by many people, including some of our leaders, who think CHR defend the criminals. I wonder how we must look to the global community when we don’t recognize and appreciate the job CHR has been doing,” he said in his speech at the House of Representatives last Tuesday.
“Our lack of empathy with CHR could also be because many of us think that all the victims of human rights are drug dealers and criminals. Does it ever occur to us that many victims of human rights could also be innocent people, even our neighbors, friends and family?” he added.
Caminero said that while he supported the administration’s war on drugs, he was against the decision of the majority to cut the CHR’s budget to P1,000.
“What’s at stake here is the access to investigations on human rights violations. This is important especially for those who are belittled and taken advantaged of by corrupt public officials and scalawags in law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Radaza was not available for comment yesterday but her mother, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, said she was very proud of her daughter’s decision.
Mayor Radaza said a P1,000 budget for a national government institution is too small.
Cebu Daily News tried to contact Representatives Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. of the 1st district, Gwendolyn Garcia of the 3rd district, Benhur Salimbangon of the 4th district, and Ramon Durano VI of the 5th district, but they did not respond.
Rep. Peter John Calderon of the 7th district said he was not present during the deliberation of the CHR budget. Asked if what would have been his vote, Calderon did not answer.
Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City’s south district said he had a special meeting with the Department of Public Works and Highways at that time.
He begged off from issuing a statement on the House’s decision.
“It’s moot now. The vote has been cast by the House. We just hope for the best for CHR from the Senate,” Abellanosa said in a text message to CDN.
Rep. Jonas Cortes of the 6th district said he failed to attend the House deliberations on Tuesday because his flight to Manila was delayed due to the bad weather.
“Nevertheless, my sentiment goes out to CHR. I believe depriving the CHR of a realistic operating budget for the 2018 fiscal year will not help cure its deficiency if there is any,” he said in a text message to CDN.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III also opposed the decision of the House to allocate P1,000 for CHR next year.
“That is tantamount to abolishing the CHR. What are they going to do with the P1,000 budget? That’s unfair. The CHR is mandated by the Constitution to look into the case of human rights violations,” he said.
Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, Ozamiz City police chief, also opposed giving the CHR a P1,000 budget even if he himself was among those being investigated by the constitutional body.
“It should not be like that. That is unfair. For me, CHR should be given the (enough) budget,” said Espenido, who was in Cebu City on Wednesday to
attend the Liga ng mga Barangay Mindanao Chapter meeting.
Espenido is being investigated by CHR over the death of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., his wife Susan, and 14 others during a bloody raid last July.
“The CHR is there to monitor. They make sure that the police don’t abuse their power,” he said.
But for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the CHR deserves the P1,000-budget for next year because it doesn’t work for the victims of the criminals but only for the criminals.
“I am bias. Okay, you can put it that way because I feel also for our policemen. Many of them are afraid to move,” he said.