WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Philippine lawmakers voted on Tuesday to give a 2018 budget of 1,000 pesos ($20) to the Commission on Human Rights.
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is notorious for his war on drug campaign throughout the country.
- People who oppose Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign are often ridiculed by the president and his supporters.
The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, voted to allocate a measly 1,000-peso budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018.
The move further confirmed The Congress’ alliance with President Duterte, with 80% of the congressmen present voting for almost zero budget for CHR. CHR’s requested budget for 2018 was 1.72 billion pesos ($33.81 million) while the government proposed 678 million pesos ($13.33 million).
The Commission on Human Rights is a government agency that has publicly opposed Duterte’s war on drugs. The president’s critics call this a revenge for the organization’s relentless efforts to investigate the administration’s bloody anti-drugs campaign.
The human rights budget for 2017 was 749 million ($14.72 million). The 2018 budget is not yet final since it requires another vote from the lawmakers and approval from the Senate.
Without a sufficient budget, the body will not be able to do its job.
According to House Speaker Alvarez, The CHR is a “useless” agency. “If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals,” he said in a television interview.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said that the budget, or lack of it, was “part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses.”
Agnes Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has repeatedly earned President Duterte’s tirade. She commented that Filipinos deserve an independent human rights organization that could hold the state accountable.
The CHR said that it lacks resources to fully enforce its investigation of the killings. Activists and human rights supporters say that majority of the killings reported are of users and small-time dealers. They say that the police are executing suspects and that the government has a kill policy
Duterte believes that drug addiction is the root of most crimes in the country. Most Filipinos are supportive of the anti-drugs campaign, even accepting the extrajudicial killings, trusting that the campaign is a solution to lower crime rates.
($1=50.8690 Philippine pesos)