MANILA, Philippines – In a last-ditch appeal, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman on Wednesday asked the the “small committee” of the House of Representatives to restore the original budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) before the 2018 budget bill is approved on third reading next week.
Lagman addressed his letter to Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the appropriations committee and head of the small committee composed of seven congressmen tasked to accept the individual amendments of the House members to the budget.
“May I earnestly recommend that the small committee consider the restoration of the original budget of the Commission on Human Rights as provided for in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) as calendared for first reading,” he said.
“If the small committee would restore the budget of the CHR, the Senate would be denied credit for reinstating the said budget,” Lagman added.
Several senators have vowed to give the CHR its P649-million budget as originally proposed in the 2018 appropriations.
This was after the House, voting on second reading, gave the rights body only a P1,000 for next year, saying it was not performing its mandate.
“Making amends is never too late,” Lagman said. “The small committee receives, collates and approves, once warranted, the various proposed amendments from the Members of the House. It can also introduce amendments on its own like reinstating the reduced budget of agencies.”
The members of the small committee are Nograles, Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, ways and means committee chairperson Rep. Dakila Cua, and appropriations committee vice chairpersons Reps. Maricar Zamora, Ricky Sandoval and Mark Sambar.
In a separate news conference, the minority bloc led by Suarez said while they are concerned with the CHR budget cut, they also criticized the “partisan leadership” of its chairperson, Chito Gascon.
“The House members, most especially the members of the minority, as much as possible, want all government agencies to receive the right amount of appropriations for them to be able to fulfill their duties. However, previous events showed that some agencies failed to effectively carry out their responsibilities,” the bloc said.
“Should the issues of the concerned agencies not be resolved, we will not hesitate to continue questioning their proposed budgets until the bicameral conference committee hearing,” it added.