Philippine congress sharply cuts rights body's budget

Philippine congress sharply cuts rights body's budget

"If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals", he said.

Critics maintain police are executing suspects, and say the government has what is effectively a kill policy.

Speaker of the House labelled the commission "useless".

The commission was last year awarded nearly (749 million pesos) $15 million for its annual budget, and had initially requested for a budget of 1.72 billion pesos ($34 million) this year. The budget drop requires approval in the Senate but opponents say it will likely be approved since President Duterte has the majority in Congress and Senate.

"In the Philippines, I continue to be gravely concerned by the President's open support for a shoot-to-kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator".

He was reacting to the speech of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein calling the lack of respect for due process and rights of all Filipinos "appalling".

The war on drugs has left thousands of people dead and critics say the budget drop is being proposed because the commission has criticized it.

Congressman Edcel Lagman said 32 minority lawmakers opposed the measure during the debate at the second reading.

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Loreta Amancera, aunt of Wilson Castillo, 33, who was among the killed within a week of President Rodrigo Duterte's intensified war on drugs, cries in front of the coffin of her nephew, inside their house in V. Mapa, metro Manila, Philippines August 19, 2017.

CHR head, Chito Gascon, said the measly budget was an attempt to force his resignation.

He added: "On pretext, asking me to resign would lead to essentially making the institution forever at the mercy of politics". However, the brutal campaign has maintained the support of many Filipinos exhausted of drug-driven crime in the country.

Human rights advocates hope senators will restore the agency's current budget.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said the new budget was "reprehensible and unconscionable".

"For next year, the IP education program will receive P 130.43 million, which is largely for capacity building, program support fund for implementation of IP education at the regional and division level", he said.

On the issue on bombing indigenous schools, Abella said it would be better to focus on the Duterte administration's efforts for their education, claiming their program will receive P130.43 million to support nearly three million indigenous students.

Representative Rodante Marcoleta said the commission should also be investigating rights abuses committed by communist rebels and Islamist militants.

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