Ed Lingao reacts to Speaker Alvarez wanting ‘zero’ budget for CHR, clarifies CHR’s mandate

Veteran journalist Ed Lingao tried to explain what the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) does after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to cut its budget to zero.

“Isa sa mga trabaho ng CHR, siguruhin na hindi tayo inaabuso ng estado,” Lingao wrote in his Facebook post on August 8.
Lingao even tried to correct Alvarez’s wrong notion that it is the state that is paying for the salaries of those working under CHR, when in fact the money comes from the taxpayers.

“The Speaker wants to slash the CHR’s budget to zero. His reasoning? Who pays for the CHR’s salaries? “Estado!” (Correct answer would have been Taumbayan. But then again…) So bakit daw ang estado parati ang binabantayan ng CHR, at hindi ang mga kriminal at drug pusher?” Lingao wrote.

He acknowledged the fact that the CHR could have done more with the human rights violations committed in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in 2004 and the bloody Kidapawan protest in 2016.

“Malinaw na maraming pagkakataon na dapat naging mas malakas ang boses ng CHR sa ibang HR violations gaya ng Luisita at Kidapawan,” Lingao said.

However, Lingao pointed out that the cases under the Philippine National Police are out of the CHR’s mandate.

“Pero ang criminal investigations na ginagawa ng PNP at DOJ, talagang hindi sakop ng CHR. Kaya nga nandyan na ang mga imbestigador ng PNP and DOJ,” he said.
Then, he went straight to what the estate and CHR are supposed to do.

“Isa sa mga trabaho ng estado, siguruhin na hindi tayo inaabuso ng kahit sino. Isa sa mga trabaho ng CHR, siguruhin na hindi tayo inaabuso ng estado,” Lingao added.

He went on to warn the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan, which are mandated to keep the state in check.

“Kung ganito po tayo mag-isip, aba mag-ingat na ang Ombudsman at ang Sandiganbayan. Estado lang ang binabantayan nila, pero hindi nila binibira ang mga kriminal at adik sa kalye,” Lingao wrote.

“Sa pagkakaalam ko, alam ng mga abugado yan. Kahit ng mga hindi abugado,” he added.

As with Lingao’s previous posts, he replied to some commenters.

One commenter accused Lingao of talking about Alvarez’s thoughts on CHR’s budget while allegedly ignoring the issues surrounding Comelec chair Andres Bautista, but Lingao had enough experience on how to handle commenters like him.

“pare, tinalakay namin kagabi ang isyu ni bautista sa newscast. ahhh onga naman, hanggang facebook lang pala ang kaya ng utak mo lol,” Lingao said.

Veteran journalist Ed Lingao

But the commenter did not stop there. Lingao #burned him, as the netizens said.

Veteran journalist Ed Lingao

Another commenter also tasted Lingao’s own brand of response.

Veteran journalist Ed Lingao

We’re tempted to compile more of his #burn comments from his previous posts, where he was attacked by other netizens.

During the budget briefing on August 7, Alvarez lashed out at CHR chairman Chito Gascon for protecting the criminals’ rights instead of the victims.’

“Kapag police matter, wala na human rights violations? Ang sa akin, kapag human rights, human rights iyan. Ang masama kasi, masyado kayo na-influence ng mga international orgs na tinitignan lang ay human rights ng mga kriminal,” Alvarez said.

Wala akong makitang dahilan para sustentohan kayo ng gobyernong ito. Mas gusto niyo pa protektahan ang mga karapatan ng mga kriminal, hindi ang mga biktima,” he added.

Gascon said that the CHR just wants to show that the state wants to protect everyone’s rights.

“Mahalaga po na ipakita rin natin na ang estado ay gusto ring alagaan ang human rights,” Gascon said.

Questioning Gascon’s criticisms against the Duterte administration, Alvarez said: “Sino ba nagpapasweldo sa inyo? ‘Di ba ang estado? Eh ang lagi mo pinupuna ang estado.”

“Sila naman ay pinoprotektahan ang karapatan ng mga biktima. Eh ikaw anong ginagawa mo, ang proktetahan ang mga kriminal?” he added.

It was during the ambush interview after the hearing that Alvarez revealed his thoughts about wanting a budget cut for CHR.

“Para sa akin dapat bawasan pa nga e,” Alvarez told reporters.

“Kung ako ang tatanungin ninyo e, zero, ‘pag ganyan ang performance. E bakit? Hindi natin ia-abolish kasi constitutional budget e ‘di wag mong bigyan ng budget yan. Dahil nga hindi naman fair e. Hindi nila ginagampanan yung trabaho nila para protektahan yung karapatang pantao, para sa lahat ng tao, sa lahat ng Pilipino dito sa ating bansa,” he added.

Senator Risa Hontiveros called Alvarez’s threat to CHR “grossly fallacious.”

“The plan by some legislators to cut to zero the Commission on Human Rights’ 2018 budget is unconstitutional. The CHR, like other constitutional commissions, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, and the judiciary, enjoys fiscal autonomy. It cannot be defunded,” Hontiveros said in a text message to GMA News.

“A zero budget for CHR means zero human rights for the people,” she said.

“Let me remind my fellow legislators that the mandate of the CHR is to ensure that there will be no abuse or negligence on the part of the government in protecting and upholding the rights of all the citizens, especially the marginalized. Of all people, our lawmakers should know this,” she added.

“Giving the CHR a zero budget will send signals to the national and international communities that the Duterte government is not committed to the principles and promotion of human rights. It elevates to the level of policy the government’s disdain for human rights.”

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