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Backlash for Duterte if he vetoes a restored budget for CHR — Lagman

President Rodrigo Duterte will face backlash if the budget for the Commission on Human Rights is restored to its original amount and he vetoes it, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

"If the House suffered so much backlash for reducing the budget of the CHR to P1,000, I think there will be more backlash for the President if he vetoes a restored budget for the CHR," Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said in a press conference.

Lagman said there is still sufficient time for the Lower House to restore the original proposed budget of the CHR for 2018, after it has been cut to a measly P1,000.

He said a small committee, composed of seven congressmen, has the plenary powers to introduce amendments to the General Appropriations Bill 2018 proposed by members of the House.

"The plenary power should include the authority to restore the budget of the Commission on Human Rights," he said.

Lagman said he is proposing to the small committee the restoration of the CHR's original budget of P623.3 million in new appropriations.

"If it's not accepted, then the General Appropriations Bill in its final form will still be the same with respect to the budget of the CHR of P1,000 and this will be what will go to the Senate," he said.

"And the Senate can propose amendments or the Senate can have its own version and there will be a bicameral conference committee who will settle the provisions," he added.

Lagman said a "deadlock" between the House of Representatives and the Senate as regards the CHR's budget is "far-fetched," as both houses want to approve a budget for 2018.

He, however, said Duterte can still apply his veto powers to the budget.

"That is his option. Because under the Constitution, the President has the power of item veto over appropriation measures," Lagman said.

On the other hand, Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan on Friday said they remain optimistic that the CHR will receive its originally proposed budget.

"We're very hopeful that the budget we submitted to Congress would be approved by Congress… Everything inside it, yes," he said.

A total of 119 lawmakers from the House of Representatives voted to approve 1-SAGIP party-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta's motion to cut CHR's budget to P1,000.

Only 32 lawmakers, who were present in the plenary at the time, voted against the motion.

Aside from the CHR, both the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples also received a P1,000 budget from the House. — BM, GMA News