Netizens erupted in anger shortly after the House of Representatives made its “arbitrary, whimsical and capricious” decision to grant the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a budget of only P1,000 for 2018.
They demanded to know from the lawmakers how they voted, given that no list of the affirmative votes was released to the public.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who has a reputation of being active on social media, was repeatedly tagged and messaged on Facebook by his constituents who were to know how he voted on the measure.
In a reply to one of his constituents in the second district of the province, Salceda defended himself and said that he was “not [on] the floor” when the vote was called. He did not say, however, how he would have voted and what the defunding of the CHR meant to him.
Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, who starred in the acclaimed martial law-theme film “Sister Stella L,” also received several queries, especially on Twitter. She assured her district that, though unable to cast her vote, she was not in favor of the P1,000 CHR budget.
In a post shared by her son, actor Luis Manzano, she said that given the numerous cases of extrajudicial killings in the country, the CHR “needs more resources” for it to hold investigations.
“This is one agency that helps [uphold] human rights,” said Santos-Recto, who suffered from ulcer on Tuesday.
Earlier, Santos-Recto drew flak for supposedly supporting the CHR’s defunding.
On Twitter, @vilmaSRecto replied to queries, saying that the lawmakers had basis for slashing the CHR budget.
Manzano later clarified that his mom was no longer “using this account nor anyone from her team.”
My mom’s clarificatory message regarding the CHR issue :) and yes, she always makes lambing with extra “s” ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/qM0gspyLTN
— Luis Manzano (@luckymanzano) September 13, 2017
Marikina Reps. Bayani Fernando and Miro Quimbo were also bombarded with questions by their constituents.
Fernando was not initially included in the list of lawmakers who voted against the cut.
Quimbo, on the other hand, said that he was not on the floor during the vote. But said that he “strongly” disagreed with the defunding of the CHR.
With 119 lawmaker in the affirmative, the House granted the motion of 1-Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta to slash the CHR’s budget from PP678 million to only P1,000.
Only 32 lawmakers opposed Marcoleta’s move.
CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon described the defunding as “arbitrary, whimsical and capricious.”
During his interpellation, Marcoleta assailed the CHR for condemning the administration for the spate of killings brought about by President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.
Marcoleta accused the commission of being “selective” in its investigations.
“You are supposed to investigate all human rights violations, irrespective of any group, any location whether they are soldiers, policemen, NPA, members of the Maute group,” he said.
Marcoleta failed, however, to realize that the CHR’s duty is “to protect the citizens’ rights from abuses by the state” – a clarification that the commission already made a few months ago following criticisms that it had been coddling criminals.
Through his Twitter, Zia Alonto Adiong, the spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee, assailed the move of the to cut the CHR budget.
“I cannot comprehend the wisdom behind the move to defund a commission that protects my rights under Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution,” said Adiong, who has been at the forefront of the government’s response to the Marawi crisis.
He added: “Is this how we fight criminality? By defunding an agency? Seriously, where’s the logic?”
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