The Lower House’s decision to restore the Commission on Human Rights’ proposed P649.484-million budget was brought about by People Power through social media.
In a statement, the Liberal Party (LP) said the restoration of the CHR budget was the people’s victory, noting how a “great number of Filipinos” expressed their outrage on social media after the lawmakers voted to slash the agency’s budget to P1,000.
“Thousands of citizens called, emailed, tweeted, messaged their representatives asking for an explanation of their vote. Many, including young people, emailed their senators asking for support against the budget cut. These initiatives went viral in both social and traditional media,” the party said.
“Today, on the 45th year of the declaration of martial law, we celebrate this victory. This is how democracy works. This is People Power, millennial version in the age of social media. This is our, the people’s, victory,” the LP said.
The House earlier gave the CHR a measly P1,000 budget next year for its alleged failure to investigate rights violations by terrorists and criminals.
House members restored the budget as Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles said CHR chair Chito Gascon agreed to expand its investigations from covering only alleged rights violations by state agents to include those committed by criminals and terrorists victimizing the police, civilians and the military.
The CHR was widely criticized on social media for singling out policemen, soldiers and other government agents but ignored atrocities by drug addicts, the communist New People’s Army, Islamic terrorists and other criminal elements.
Nograles said the restoration of the budget of the CHR, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will be reflected in the third reading approval of the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
Gascon thanked the House leadership for restoring the CHR budget and vowed to push through with the commission’s mandate to protect all forms of human rights.
Regional CHR chief Arvin Odron said he was glad that the Lower House restored the agency’s budget.
“It’s true that we need the budget for our operations. (But they should realize) that it is not only for the central office but also for the continued operations of the 16 Regional Field Offices in the entire country, (including us in Central Visayas),” he said.
Odron said they “have been doing their best” to perform their mandate, having assisted 659 victims of human rights violations from January to September this year.