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APF welcomes decision to restore budget of Philippines' NHRI

Graphic: The CHR Chairperson addresses the media

The APF has welcomed the decision of Philippines’ Government to restore the annual budget of the Commission on Human Rights.

The APF has welcomed the decision of Philippines' Government to restore the annual budget of the Commission on Human Rights after slashing it to just US $20 earlier in the month.

The Commission's annual budget for the previous year was US $15 million dollars.

The 294-member Congress will still have to confirm the restoration of CHR's 678 million pesos (US $13 million) budget for 2018 in a third and final reading of the appropriations bill, Reuters reported.

The proposed cuts to the CHR – taken by 119 members in the House of Representatives aligned with President Duterte, with only 32 opposing the measure – have been widely criticised by human rights groups, civil society organisations and members of the public.

The CHR has been the subject of consistent attacks by the President and other senior officials for its investigation into deaths linked to the government's crackdown on illegal drugs.

More than 3,800 people have reportedly been killed in police operations or vigilante attacks since July 2016.

In a statement following the proposed budget cuts, the CHR said that it "has always taken positions in favour of human rights … in a non-partisan manner, and as rightfully mandated by the 1987 Constitution."

"The concern for human rights is beyond partisanship or disagreement. We shall seek means to move forward and navigate through the hurdles, mindful of our oath to serve the people and the Republic, because it is what is right and what is needed of the times," the CHR said.

The APF had expressed its support in a statement, describing the recent attacks on the CHR and its Chairperson, Jose Luis Martin Gascon, as being of "grave concern".

"It appears that these public attacks seek to intimidate and undermine the integrity of the Commission to independently perform its constitutionally mandated role as the Philippines' principal human rights body," APF Chairperson Jamsran Byambadorj said.

The Chairperson of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) echoed these concerns.

"These threats against an independent state body that is fulfilling its statutory duties to promote and protect human rights are of grave concern to GANHRI," Professor Dr Beate Rudolf said in a statement.

"The role of NHRIs is precisely to promote and protect human rights and it falls upon their respective governments to create the necessary enabling environment, including by upholding the independence of an NHRI and respecting its mandate," she said.

Date: 25 September 2017

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  1. The CHR Chairperson addresses the media - Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines