The value of human rights in the Philippines is now worth just $20, apparently.
Philippine legislators have voted to reduce the annual budget for the country’s Commission of Human Rights (CHR) to just 1,000 pesos ($20).
The budget cut, essentially choking off the CHR, comes upon repeated clashes between the human rights body and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The commission has heavily criticised Duterte’s war on drugs, which has seen thousands killed without trial under his anti-drug crackdown.
“If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals.” — house speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
The CHR, which investigates the drug killings, has previously come under fire from Duterte himself, who threatened to abolish it.
“If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals,” he said. “Why should you get budget from the government?”
119 lawmakers voted in favour of the cut to the CHR, versus 32.
The commission was last year awarded almost (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.
Filipinos online could hardly believe the cut.
Philippine legislators voted to reduce the Human Rights Commission’s annual budget from $15 million to $20. Yes, $20. Duterte is insane
— Edwin Awuor (@edwin_awuor) September 13, 2017
honestly the P1000 budget for the chr just shows how much duterte’s administration disregards the importance of human rights 😔
— dominique (@dominiquechuaa) September 12, 2017
Others were flat out outraged.
the philippine government just defunded the commission of human rights to P1000. that’s how fucked up this duterte administration is
— aillah (@thranduiIien) September 12, 2017
P1000 or $20 for human rights. HUMAN RIGHTS. WOW DUTERTE
— kat ;; ia; read 📌 (@beomjiaer) September 12, 2017
just sit down & stay silent. fight the fight and SPEAK OUT. Your opinion means something and matters. Don’t slack off.
— m (@rapsvocaI) September 12, 2017
The budget requires Senate approval before it becomes final — which opponents say is likely, because President Duterte has a majority in the two chambers.
War on drugs
According to Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, the decision is “part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses.”
More than 7,000 people have been killed since President Duterte launched his war on drugs last year, according to Human rights group Amnesty International.
The controversial campaign was aimed at wiping out the drug trade in the Philippines, but has resulted in a huge number of deaths.
Amnesty says that because of financial incentives offered to officers, some have planted evidence and falsified reports in order to justify the extrajudicial killings.