By RUDY D. LIPORADA
President Rodrigo Duterte is beyond despicable but the adjective still applies to his minions.
In the latest puking issue, Duterte said that he had no hand in the House of Representatives allotting a niggard P1,000 for the year 2018 budget to the Commission of Human Rights (CHR). In US terms, that is only $20.
The reason for crippling the CHR is summed up by Sagip Representative Rodante Marcoleta, one of Duterte’s rabid minions. One of Marcoleta’s arguments in basically rendering the commission inutile centered on an April 25, 2017 editorial of the New York Times which splashed on its pages “Let the World Condemn Duterte.” Marcoleta’s reasoning went why the CHR did not defend Duterte when his human rights were violated by the Times. Ironically, Sagip means to save and Marcoleta’s concept of saving is mainly to save Duterte from his alleged crimes against humanity.
The editorial reads in part: “The ICC (International Criminal Courts) should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings… After he was elected president last year, Mr. Duterte took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users… There is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation, which would send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.”
Ironic still that the Sagip representative, as law maker, went on to argue that the creation of the Constitutional body itself was wrong. The CHR was created in 1987 through several articles in the Constitution, the Administrative Code of 1987, and EO 292, presumably, as a safeguard against dictatorship. The 20-year regime of dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos had just been toppled at that time. If Marcoleta is correct in his argument, then dictatorship is acceptable.
The dictatorship concept is echoed by Senator Vicente Sotto when he said that Chito Gascon, the CHR chairman has been “kontra kasi ng kontra.” He further said that he might reconsider voting back the present budget of the commission of P675M if Gascon will resign. He had often said that if you don’t want Duterte, resign. This line should add to his long list of his being a court jester as a Filipino actor, comedian, plagiarist, misogynist, and a long-standing political joke; not to mention rapists of Pepsi Paloma defender.
And then there is Senator Manny Pacquiao standing toe to toe on the side of Sotto. “Yung CHR, may sumusobra lang yung ginagawa nila. Yung minsan kasi may mga pangyayari na nabibintang agad doon sa ating administrasyon na wala namang kinalaman, yung mga ganun,” he said.
Moreover, while he believes that the CHR should not be abolished, Pacquiao said the agency should not be used for political purposes. My hero boxer must have been hit a lot on the head. Abolishing the CHR is not political?
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of course is the leader of the pack. He said that the message of the P1,000 budget for the CHR is clear: the government agency is not doing its job. He said the CHR is focusing on protecting the human rights of criminals while ignoring the needs of innocent victims of various crimes. It’s like extrajudicial killing which Duterte’s regime is now noted for is not criminal.
In the budget issue, 119 legislators clearly proved themselves minions of Duterte when voted in favor of the budget slash. Only at least 32 voted against it.
In reaction, Gascon described the defunding as “arbitrary, whimsical and capricious.” He tried to correct Marcoleta who assailed that the CHR only condemned Duterte’s administration for the killings in the president’s war on drugs and accused the CHR of being selective in its investigations. If Marcoleta, however, knows his constitution, he would know that the CHR’s duty is “to protect the citizens’ rights from abuses by the state.”
To disprove that Duterte does not have a hand on the house’s voting, it should be recalled that in 2009, long before he was elected as president, then CHR chairperson Leila De Lima was already on his back for the alarming killings in Davao City where Duterte was mayor. Eight years later, when Duterte became president, Delima landed in jail for allegedly being involved in the drug trade. Lucky that Gascon is still out of the gallows.
At the end of the day, Tony La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, says this of the $20 CHR 2018 budget: “This is about abuse of power. This is about saying I don’t care. I have the power. We have the power. That’s what makes it so frustrating,” La Viña said. “The message is very very clear. We don’t care about human rights. You’re just an obstacle to the political goals of the administration.” # nordis.net