The House of Representatives of the Philippines on Tuesday voted 119-32 to cut the annual budget of the Commission of Human Rights down to 1,000 pesos, equivalent to USD $20. CHR originally requested a budget of 1.72 billion pesos for 2018, an increase from their 2017 budget of 749 million pesos. While the government initially proposed a budget of 678 million pesos, supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte justified the more drastic cut by alleging that the government’s money was being wasted on the unnecessary defense of criminals’ rights. Human rights experts have criticized the cut, stating that the decision will prevent the Duterte administration from being held accountable for human right violations in the administration’s “war-on-drugs.” Without the proper funding, it is expected that the CHR will be unable to continue its investigations into the ongoing execution of criminal suspects.
The Philippines have been on the international spotlight ever since Duterte took office as the president. During Duterte’s campaign last year, he had stated 100,000 people would die in his crackdown on crime. Last month, a group of UN experts urged the government of the Philippines to address reports of human rights violations that include threats against indigenous people, murder and the summary execution of children. Duterte promised the prior week to continue to escalate the war on drugs in his country despite international concern over human rights violations. Earlier in July Duterte asked Congress to extend his order of martial lawfor the lower third of the country. Also in July the Philippines Office of the Ombudsman [official website] announced plans to charge former Philippines president Benigno Aquino III for the botched “anti-terror” raid that led to what is known as the Mamasapano massacre in 2015. In June Philippine opposition lawmakers petitioned the Supreme Court to reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law. In April a lawyer filed a complaint against Duterte accusing him of extrajudicial killings during his nationwide anti-drugs crackdown. In March the Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the police of falsifying evidence in relation to the alleged police killings of citizens. This policy of sanctioned killings has been part of Duterte’s rhetoric since his time as mayor of Davao City.
As carried in JURIST on 14.9.17