Ateneo de Naga College of Law on CHR’s P1K Budget

September 21, 2017

 

Shamefully unconstitutional and tyrannical!

“No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights. Human rights are more than legal concepts: they are the essence of man. They are what make man human. That is why they are called human rights: deny them and you deny man’s humanity. “
- Senator Jose W. Diokno

On September 12, 2017, Congress “jubilantly” voted with the “famous clenched fist sign of President Rodrigo Duterte” to provide Php 1,000 Pesos only for the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights. This appropriation is obviously inadequate for CHR’s continued existence and operations as We, the Sovereign Filipino People, mandated in our Constitution. Hence, UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

And TYRANNICAL! For it is arbitrary, whimsical, and an egregious betrayal of the Policy under our Constitution that “(t)he State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.” (Art. II, sec. 11) Worse, it is blatant disobedience to the COMMAND of our Constitution that “Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity....” (Art. XIII, sec. 1)

Let it be hammered on Congress that We, the Sovereign Filipino People, have decreed in our Constitution a Limited Government under a system of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. No department, commission or office holds absolute power. And this especially includes Congress that holds the “Power of the Purse.” This is based on the fundamental democratic principle that no one should ever have the monopoly of power. Or else, we end up with a dictatorship again as what we endured during Martial Law under Marcos. For, as Lord Acton of England famously wrote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Thus, Congressmen cannot refuse to provide with our money—not theirs—the necessary funds for constitutionally mandated activities and institutions, which include the Commission on Human Rights. Precisely, We, the Sovereign Filipino People, have decreed in our Constitution that: “There is hereby created an independent office called the Commission on Human Rights.” (Art. XIII, sec. 17, para. 1) And we have charged it to: “Investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights;” “Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection;” “Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities;” “Establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy
of human rights; and most especially, “Monitor the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights.” (Art. XIII, sec. 18)

Verily, a 1,000 peso budget for CHR is utterly reprehensible and an unconscionable betrayal of the public trust.

So, too, under our legal system what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. Thus, Congress cannot indirectly abolish the CHR by slashing its budget as to immobilize it and render it powerless.

Furthermore, while Congress is one of our three “great” branches or departments of government, it cannot behave like a bully for its own aggrandizement at the expense of “lesser” constitutional offices such as the CHR. Settled is the rule by the “principle of separation of powers as a vital check against tyranny” and of “checks and balances ... as a self-executing safeguard against the encroachment or aggrandizement of one branch at the expense of the other” that a constitutionally created body like Congress cannot act as to nullify the powers, duties and functions of the other branches or departments, commissions and offices EQUALLY created by the Constitution—by the Sovereign Filipino People. {Buckley v. Valeo, 424 US 1, 121-122)

Sadly, the majority Congressmen anchored their votes on the supposed “failure” of the CHR to protect victims of crime, for being so “noisy” about EJKs, and for being critical of President Duterte’s “nanlaban” Anti-Illegal Drugs War.

This reasoning is grossly flawed. For in our Constitution, it is the President on whom we vested the power and primary duty for law enforcement that includes the protection of the human rights of all Filipinos, especially those who become victims of crimes. “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.” (Art. VII, sec. 17) And this duty to faithfully execute the laws includes the prevention of crimes that the police and the entire machinery of government under the control of the President are precisely tasked to implement. Did not the President PROMISE to solve crime in three (3) months?

In turn, the power we gave to our CHR under our Constitution, is NOT law enforcement that is the responsibility of the President as earlier stated, but “to investigate on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights” (Art. XIII, sec. 18, para. 1) in relation to its duty to “(m)onitor the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights.” (Art. XIII, sec. 18, para. 7) In short, the main role of our CHR is to serve as our “WATCHDOG” on the government or the administration led by the President, especially now with the unabated “nanlaban” extra-judicial killings happening around us coupled with crimes perpetrated by police themselves.

In sum, we face the spectre of a Congress hell-bent on silencing the CHR in high betrayal of what We, the Sovereign Filipino People, have so decreed in our Constitution.

Let our People be set on fire, and denounce this new form of tyranny. NEVER AGAIN TO DICTATORSHIP! For as Rizal reminds us: “There are no tyrants where there are no slaves!”

Dios Mabalos!

Law Day 19 September 2017, Naga City, Bikol, Philippines.


 

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