The House of Representatives of the Philippines is planning to allocate a mere P1,000 to the Commission on Human Rights, a government funded organization that has grown increasingly critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against narcotics traffickers and sellers.
House Representative Rodante Marcoleta put forward the proposition to drastically slash the organization’s funding, and received 119 votes in favor of the idea. Marcoleta has been extremely critical of the organization neglecting to focus on the human rights concerns created by the nation’s drug problems.
The Commission on Human Rights has instead focused on what it perceives to be the dramatic anti-human rights positions and actions taken by the Duterte administration in an effort to reduce the nation’s drug problems.
While the House of Representatives seeks to punish the commission through lack of funding, the senate wants to do the exact opposite. Shortly before the House of Representatives announced their plan to give the organization P1,000 in funding, the Senate passed a budget including P649.484 million for the Commission on Human Rights, and another P28.565 million for the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission.
As the two budgets are so far apart, it is likely a committee will be formed with members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to form a budget pleasing to both parties. While the final budget will likely be more than the P1,000 passed by the House, the stance may force the Senate to compromise by greatly reducing its funding.
The media has greatly demonized President Duterte, suggesting his campaign rhetoric and actions threaten the very existence of human rights.
According to Philippines-based news website Rappler:
“Speak against human rights abuses and expect to be attacked by an online mob. Now imagine how intense the attack could be if you actually work for human rights organizations.
In the past year, advocates have been at the receiving end of harassment – rape and death threats, among others – ever since President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed his tirades against those critical of his war on drugs.
The Davao City mayor has been nothing but consistent in his hardline stance against human rights even before being elected. Threats to kill or behead advocates were a fixture in his various speeches.
Ellecer Carlos of In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) said that with every curse and threat, Duterte effectively ‘demonized’ human rights.”
These organizations and the media fail to comprehend the severity of the impact the drug epidemic had on average citizens prior to the Duterte administration’s severe crackdown.
The government considers the drug war to be a massive success. According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, “3,171 drug suspects were killed in police operations, while more than 1.3 million drug users or pushers surrendered” in Duterte’s first year in office.
The government is also investigation an additional 10,000 deaths that may have been related to the drug war.