PH lawyers urge the Senate to ensure a working budget for the Commission on Human Rights

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THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines on Monday appealed to the Senate to provide the Commission on Human Rights with sufficient funds as the “minuscule budget approved by the House of Representatives is anathema to the continued existence and independence” of the commission and thus “an affront to the rule of law.”

The appeal was made in a resolution by the IBP Board of Governors in observance of the third week of September as “Philippine National Law Week” pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 640 issued during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos.

Citing Section 24, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, the IBP Board of Governors said the Senate has the power to amend the general appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives in the General Appropriations Act for the year 2018.

Section 24, Article VI states that “All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills, shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.”

The IBP stressed that “it is the fundamental policy of the State to value the dignity of every human person and to guarantee full respect for human rights (Const., Article II, sec. 11).”

It further noted that give effect to this State policy, Article XIII, section 17 of the Philippine Constitution created an independent Commission on Human Rights, which is expressly mandated to investigate all forms of human rights violations, and provide legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within Philippines as well as Filipinos residing abroad.

On September 14, 2017, the House of Representatives approved only PhP 1,000.00 as the annual budget of the CHR for the year 2018 reportedly because of the CHR’s overly critical view of policemen and other law enforcement authorities.

On the other hand, on 11 September 2017, the Senate Finance Committee recommended approval of CHR’s proposed budget of Six Hundred Seventy-Eight Million Pesos (P678 Million) for 2018.

The IBP believes that while the small budget approved by the House of Representatives is a condemnation to the continued existence and independence of the CHR, the budget recommended by the Senate Finance Committee is more in keeping with the clear and unequivocal Constitutional intent behind the creation of the commission.

The IBP Board of Governors stressed that their appeal is being made in the context of the CHR’s Constitutional mandate, the multitude of Filipinos, here and abroad, whose human rights the CHR is duty-bound to protect, and the welfare of the CHR personnel and their families whose livelihoods depends on the CHR.

It is also in consonance with the duty of every public officer to be accountable to and to serve the Filipino people, in pursuit of the State Policy to preserve, protect and guarantee the full spectrum of human rights to every Filipino and to each person in the country, and in obedience to the Rule of Law.

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Nelson Flores, J.D., MSCK
A former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Standard Today, and a regular columnist of the Metro Manila based daily tabloid newspaper Hataw; Nelson Flores is also the former Senior Associate Editor of the Houston based Fil-Am Press and former anchor of dzXL and dzRJ's weekend talk show Usaping Bayan. Mr. Flores has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Law degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University and a holder of a study certificate from the Diocesan House of Studies, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is a Freemason and member of Reagan Lodge 1037 in Houston Heights under the jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas and a member of the Missionary Society of Christ the King (MSCK).

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