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House defers plenary deliberations for CHR’s budget

The House of Representatives has deferred to Tuesday next week the plenary deliberation on the Commission on Human Rights' proposed P678-million budget for 2018.

Officials from the agency did not appear in the House's plenary hall on Wednesday when their budget was being considered.

In an interview on Thursday, CHR chair Chito Gascon explained that they had in fact been inside the Batasang Pambansa complex at the time.

However, he added, there had been a "miscommunication" between the House staff and the CHR made them miss the budget deliberations.

"We were informed rather late, so we had to travel about 10 minutes from the holding area. So by the time we got in, we heard it was deferred," Gascon said.

"Then we were told that it because it was deferred, we come back [today]. We are also here today but of course, maraming ibang naka-schedule. So, it was clarified, balik na lang sa Tuesday ng ala-una," he added.

Gascon said they were advised that they could not be easily accommodated on Thursday's plenary deliberations due to the tight line-up involving other government agencies.

"Pero sa dami ng mga tanong sa ibang agencies, hindi na napasok. Ang ginawa namin nila, imbes na paghintayin kami, sabi nila irereschedule nila sa Martes," he said.

What is important, Gascon said, is that the House of Representatives is still giving them the opportunity to defend their budget.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier threatened to give the CHR zero budget for always criticizing the government.

"Umaasa kami na yung salita ni Speaker sa committee level na ize-zero kami ay magbago ang kanyang isip dahil mahalaga po ang trabaho namin bilang isang constitutional office," Gascon said.

"Sa dami ng mga nangyayaring human rights violations, kailangan makatugon kami. Hindi naman pwede na zero," he added.

Despite this, Gascon said they have no ill feelings towards the House of Representatives for deferring the deliberations for their budget.

"Ang mahalaga ay may pagkakataon na madepensahan ang budget namin at sana ay unawain ng mayorya, sana ay hindi naman nila ituloy na i-zero kami," he said.

Sought for comment, House Appropriations Committee chair Karlo Nograles told reporters that the reason for the deferral of the CHR's budget because the agency is still hounded by "unresolved issues."

"Masyado kaming pinapangunahan ni Chairman Gascon. He is practically begging that Congress gives him a P1 budget by spreading those rumors," he said.

"I would advise that he refrains from doing that. If the House really wanted to give CHR a P1 budget, it would have happened already, just like when ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission] was given a P1,000 budget," he added. — BM, GMA News