CHR: P860.5M not enough for agency’s programs

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    THE Commission on Human Rights yesterday requested for a bigger budget for next year, saying the P860.5 million earmarked by Malacanang is not enough to carry out the agency’s programs for 2021.

    At the continuation of the budget hearing at the Senate, CHR chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon said the agency initially asked for a P1.4 billion budget for next year but was instead allotted P860.5 million by Malacanang.

    Gascon said bulk of the CHR’s proposed budget of P1.4 billion will go to the salary increase of its employees and officials, and salaries of newly-hired employees and officials, and retirement pay.

    Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who was often criticized by the CHR during his time as PNP chief, said he supports the CHR’s request for a higher budget.

    “I would like the CHR to know, alam ko sila ay very worried much baka harangin ko ang kanilang budget sa hearing na ito. Rest assured as early as now, hindi ako kagay ng ibang legislators na ginagamit ang power of the purse to get even sa kanilang opponents (I would like the CHR to know, I know they are very worried that I might block their budget during this hearing. Rest assured that as early as now, I am not like any legislator who use the power of the purse in getting even with their opponents),” Dela Rosa said.

    Dela Rosa also advised CHR to hire pro-military, pro-police, and pro-government lawyers, saying it will be easier for CHR to investigate human rights violations.

    Gascon said the CHR does not look into an applicant’s political leaning, saying it accepts employees based mainly on qualifications.

    Jacqueline de Guia, CHR executive director, said the agency is having a hard time filling up the vacancies for 165 lawyers due to the low salary being offered by the commission – P75,000 a month. She said lawyers prefer jobs in other agencies due to the additional allowances offered.

    “It’s very hard to attract lawyers especially in the regions given the fact that we have low salary grade positions plus very minimal to nothing in allowances to grant to our lawyers so it is not a lucrative profession for our lawyers,” De Guia said.