By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY --- The budget allocation for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for 2018 as originally proposed may most likely to be restored in the coming days, Rep. Joey S. Salceda (2rd District) of Albay said.
When asked to comment on the approved budget for CHR, NCIP and ERC by Congress, Salceda, vice chair of House appropriations committee, said that these (three offices aforementioned) are vital institutions which require reasonable budget for their operations.
When asked where was he when the voting was done during the House plenary session last Tuesday, the Albayano solon said he was taking some rest after defending the budget of 29 agencies.
“After defending 29 agencies I was resting when these were voted on,” Salceda said. The controversial budget cut for CHR, NCIP and ERC as approved by 119 members of the House of Representatives has spurred outrage from the Filipino people.
Acordingly, many fellow Bicolanos went to check on the list of Bicolano lawmakers who voted for the budget cut.
Rep. Alfredo Garbin of Ako Bicol partylist said that his fellow representatives in the AKB partylist did not participate in the voting as a sign of protest. (Please read separate story).
According to Garbin, AKB wants the commission [CHR] to fulfil its mandate in safeguarding human rights of all Filipino people and check abuses and violation of due process.
“Hintayin na lang natin yong bicameral conference. Maibabalik rin ang budget ng CHR (We’ll wait the bicameral conference. The proposed budget will be restored,” he added. The Ako Bicol solons Reps. Alfredo Garbin, Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Co were in plenary hall in silent protest.
Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of the 3rd District of Albay said that the decision made by 119 solons were not a matter of supporting [Speaker Pantaleon] Alvarez caprices or desire.
He explained the majority does not make decisions based on caprices.
“The matter was a decision reached by the majority after discussions and consensus. Since the Senate voted to approve the CHR budget allocated by the executive, the House and the Senate will have to meet under a bicameral committee to reconcile the difference between the House and Senate versions,” Gonzalez explained.
Only two Bicolanos, Representatives Edcel C. Lagman of Albay’s first district and Gabby Bordado of Camarines Sur’s 3rd district were among the 32 congressmen who voted against the will of the majority to allocate token amounts of P1,000 each as 2018 annual budget for the Commission on Human Rights, National Commission on Indigenous People, and the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Bicolano Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero of Sorsogon said he would fight to restore the budget of the CHR in the Senate. The Senate approved the P678M budget for of CHR for 2018.
The CHR which is provided for in 1987 Philippine constitution serves as vital institution that mandates all government officials to exercise their mandate, functions with due respect to the constitutional rights of the people.
Both chambers of Congress (the Senate and the House) will meet in a bicameral committee conference to finally resolve the final budget to be submitted to the Office of the President for approval of the 2018 national budget under the General Appropriations Act.