House can still restore CHR budget — Lagman
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives still has time to restore the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for next year, opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said yesterday.

“Making amends is never too late. There is still sufficient time for the House to restore the downgraded budget of the CHR before the general appropriations bill (proposed P3.7-trillion 2018 national budget) is submitted for third reading,” Lagman told a news conference.

He said the House had created a committee to accept amendment proposals from members after it approved the proposed budget on second reading last Sept. 12.

Lagman said the committee – chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas – on its own could return the budget cuts made by the House. 

Aside from the CHR, the House slashed funding for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to P1,000

The Senate committee on finance has approved the appropriations of the three commissions without any reduction. This puts the Senate at loggerheads with the House on the funding of the three agencies.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez demanded the resignation of the CHR and ERC chairmen before he would consider giving them a larger budget.

He branded critics of the House decision to slash the CHR’s budget gago or stupid. Among the critics are several senators including Panfilo Lacson, who heads a subcommittee in charge of funding for several agencies such as CHR as well as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Lacson has said he was “accepting the challenge” to fight for the CHR budget.

 Last year, he initially returned to ARMM P8.3 billion in what he suspected was pork barrel funds for Muslim lawmakers and certain House leaders, which the House had transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

When congressmen insisted that the money be retained with DPWH, Lacson realigned the fund to the Commission on Higher Education for free college tuition. That started the funding for free college education.

Another senator, Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate finance committee, vowed to fight for the appropriations not only of the CHR but of ERC and NCIP as well. – With Paolo Romero, Edu Punay

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