Editorial: Need a courageous and faithful CHR

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Notwithstanding the demand of stakeholders for better services two, no three national governtment commissions were deprived of their budget for next year by the House of Congress and were appropriated only a measly P1,000 each for 2018.

On Tuesday, September 12, 119 congressmen voted in favor of the proposal to slash the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), a constitutional body; the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Generally, the congressmen said because they were not doing their work of serving the public.

Except for the NCIP, it was reported that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier vowed to cripple the CHR, and the ERC by drastically reducing their funding while the Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate authored the bill against the agency which he said failed to stand up by its mandate to protect the IPs.

Giving a sweeping glance at the what has been done by these bodies through the years, CHR’s services and programs have been wanting, big time, in the protection of the Filipino’s basic human rights considering the State’s violations against the rights of the greater majority of the people: the rising cases of enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings, forced evacuation, militarization of far flung indigenous peoples villages, and many more. The ERC, the mere fact that energy costs have been rising above the capacity of an ordinary wage earner without rest and without their serious intervention to protect the majority of consumers since its creation can be reason enough to shut it down.

In the case of the NCIP, since its creation by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) two decades ago, communities and organizations of indigenous peoples in the country had continuously raised issues with and against the agency that include the loss of their ancestral lands and domains to big corporate mines, plantations, energy projects, etc.; graft and corruption in their offices, being an instigator of division, and confusion in the communities, and many more. In this past decade indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities have practically been calling for the abolition of the NCIP. Again, lately in a nationwide march of national minorities just recently, the abolition of the agency was again raised, until the halls of congress and Bayan Muna’s Carlos Zarate represented them and carried their demand to the floor of the HOR.

Reports said, Zarate initiated the reduction of its P1.1-billion budget to just P1,000. Zarate said the agency has not been effective in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

It is reported that Congress passed the proposed national budget and placed the allocations for the CHR into the war on drugs. Duterte was also quoted saying he was angry at CHR head Gascon for issuing a statement that CHR would send a human rights investigator to investigate government abuses in the ensuing Marawi war because he (Gascon) was “obstructing a war” which has killed Philippine soldiers. The soldiers invading the area and the moros and lumads and igorots who were just defending their ancestral home.

The Lumad, Moro and Igorots recognize that his (Duterte) mercenaries, so-called soldiers are killing them (as a source of income) under his anti- insurgency all out war, Oplan Kapayapaan; under his Oplan Tokhang and campaign Double barrel, his so-called war on drugs. They feel that the so-called Marawi war is meant to clear the island for the take-over of big business, mines, plantations, etc. over their homes, small farms, pastures, traditional livelihood and ancestral domains. They start to understand this martial law over Mindanao is just masking the tyranical plans to take-over the life, land and resources for his imperialist masters.

Like what happened to Ka Paeng Mariano, Gina Lopez and Judy Taguiwalo, Gascon had it coming, and he was just begining to comprehend to serve the CHR mandate. # nordis.net

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