Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, however, says he will not resign as doing so will lead to making the institution forever at the mercy of politics
Want a possibly higher budget for the Commission on Human Rights? One condition, said House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez: let Chairman Chito Gascon resign.
This was according to CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana who met with him prior to the budget deliberations at the House of Representatives.
"He just expressed, of course his feelings, the same way as he said in public that he intends to pursue the P1,000 budget for the CHR," she told reporters on Tuesday, September 12. "He did mention that if the Chair would step down, probably the budget would be increased or given to the CHR."
On Tuesday, 119 legislators in the Lower House voted in favor of giving the Philippines’ national human rights institution a measly P1,000 while 32 legislators voted against it. They acted on the motion by SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta. (READ: House budget debates: CHR gets only P1,000 for 2018)
The House-approved budget is way below what the Commission originally proposed: P678 million. The proposal was approved by the Senate finance committee on Monday, September 11.
Gascon, however, is standing his ground and is not giving up his position which he will hold until May 2022. He can be replaced only through impeachment.
“The principal reason why I cannot resign my office is to do so will weaken the institution itself,” he explained.
Heeding the calls to resign continuously made by the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte will put the CHR “at the mercy of politics.” (READ: CHR chairman should resign – Panelo)
“Under the set of circumstances where the Congress would respond to an independent constitutional office this way and to threaten it with a reduction in its budget on the pretext of asking me to resign would lead to essentially making the institution forever at the mercy of politics,” Gascon said.
Alvarez has aggressively threatened to slash the budget of the Philippines’ national human rights institution. The House Speaker previously slammed the Commission for allegedly not doing its job.
"Wala akong makitang dahilan para sustentuhan kayo ng gobyernong ito," he said during CHR’s budget briefing on August 7. "Sino ba nagpapasuweldo sa inyo? 'Di ba ang estado? Eh ang lagi mo pinupuna ang estado, pero sila naman ay pinoprotektahan ang karapatan ng mga biktima. Ikaw, anong ginagawa mo, ang protektahan ang mga kriminal?"
Also read: Sereno to Duterte: Just resign