09/13/2017, 18.02

Duterte reduces funding for the Human Rights Commission to around US$ 20 for 2018

The Commission has repeatedly criticised the government for extrajudicial killings. Outraged Filipinos take to the Internet. Duterte also plans to cut next year’s spending on drug rehabilitation centres by 75 per cent. The Church is involved in helping and rehabilitating addicts.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – By a vote of 119 to 32, the House of Representatives today approved next year’s budget for the constitutionally mandated Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR had faced a 10 per cent cut to its budget of P649.48 million (US$ 12.7 million). In 2018, its allocated budget will be a thousand Filipino pesos (US$ 19,60).

CHR Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon said the CHR, which was established under the 1987 constitution, was saddened by the House’s “whimsical and capricious display of vindictiveness”.

The CHR has often strongly criticised the Duterte administration for the thousands of extrajudicial killings in its war on drugs.

Over the past month, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had threatened to scuttle the CHR’s budget and render it ineffective.

Following today’s vote, many Filipinos immediately took to the Internet to express their anger. Many demanded to know which lawmakers voted for the budget, given that no list of votes was released to the public.

Various human rights groups, including the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, have joined the protest.

Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, slammed the decision, calling it “Reprehensible and unconscionable”.

For its part, the Duterte administration also plans a 75 per cent cut in spending next year on drug rehabilitation centres.

Since the start of his war on drugs, the Catholic Church has been a critical and authoritative voice in the matter through its many relief and rehab activities to help families affected by the government’s violent crackdown, which has thus far led to 12,000 extrajudicial killings.

Card Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, has repeatedly urged Catholics to reflect, pray, and act. He has also called on priests and lay people to renew their commitment to the Manila Archdiocese Rehabilitation programme, called ‘Sanlakbay’.

Working with local government and law enforcement, the programme is centred on parish communities. It seeks to encourage drug addicts to stop, accept rehabilitation and give themselves another chance to start a new life.

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