Officials of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Bohol expressed dismay over Congress’ vote to allocate a measly P-1000 budget to the public-funded agency which opposed President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
CHR Bohol officer-in-charge Alfonso Bayocot lamented the lower house’s 119-to-32 voting in favor of the budget noting that the initially proposed allocation was at P1.17 billion but was then decreased to P600 million.
According to Bayocot, the move was devised to cripple the CHR from investigating human rights violations which have been linked to the government.
The agency deserves a bigger budget as it serves as “watchdog” of the government, said Bayocot.
The local CHR official also clarified its role denouncing those that criticized the agency for not investigating common crimes.
Bayocot noted that it is not the CHR’s role to probe common crimes as there are government offices mandated to investigate these such as the police and other law enforcement agencies.
The CHR is after abuses inflicted by the government and its agents, and not those committed by civilians—an issue that has been the cause of misconceptions from the public, he said.
However, Bayocot still expressed optimism that the CHR will have its original allocation restored particularly as several members of the Senate have vowed to block the lower house’s move to slash its annual budget.
Bayocot also said that despite the threat of being allocated a paltry sum, CHR employees including him have no plans on leaving the agency.
Meanwhile, the CHR’s head office has started a campaign to inform the public on the agency’s role through an infographic.
“It is the CHR’s duty to protect the citizens’ rights from abuses by the state, such as the [civilian] government, police, and military,” the CHR said in Filipino, in a statement accompanying the graphic.
“It is the mandate of the CHR to ensure that there will be no abuse or negligence on the part of the government in protecting and upholding the rights of all the citizens, especially those in the margins,” the statement added. “Each branch of government has a duty to observe and fulfill the rights and the needs of the citizenry. But if it is the state or the government itself that violates or denies human rights, that is when the CHR will act as the conscience of the government.” (Allen Doydora)