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House restores budget for CHR, ERC, NCIP

The House Committee on Appropriations is set to restore the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for 2018.

Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, the committee chair, on Wednesday said his panel has been given the approval to endorse the restoration of the budget after the heads of the three agencies appealed to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

CHR Chair Jose Luis "Chito" Gascon, ERC Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana and NCIP Chair Leonor Oralde-Quintayo met with Nograles and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to serve as a link to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Alvarez had been particularly outspoken against Gascon and the CHR, which he accused of not doing their jobs as it continued to criticize the rising death toll in President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.

"The Speaker basically told Chairman Gascon that we are not the enemy. The Duterte government is not the enemy. We are one with the CHR in the fight against all forms of human rights violation but they must start looking also at the violations committed by criminals and insurgents," Nograles said.

During the plenary deliberation for the 2018 General Appropriations Bill, the chamber only approved a budget of P1,000 each for CHR, ERC and NCIP. The three agencies' original budget was P678 million, P365 million and P1.2 billion, respectively.

"The dialogue was very frank but cordial. In the end, the Speaker was magnanimous in his decision and gave the green light to restoring their budget," Nograles said.

Nograles also said the restoration of the three agencies' budget would be incorporated in the final version of the House Bill 6215, or the General Appropriations Bill, which is up for the third and final reading in the plenary. —KBK/JST, GMA News