Manila votes to cut rights group budget to $26

Philippines Commission on Human Rights budget cut to $20 amid deadly war on drugs

Int'l rights group slam P1,000 'defunding' of CHR

President Duterte put the blame entirely on Human Rights Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon "he had it coming", Duterte said. "Why should you get a budget from the government and yet you are not doing your job?"

MANILA Philippine lawmakers have voted to slash funding for its human rights commission to $26 in response to the commission's probes into President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drug war, the authorities said yesterday.

Hours before the House's budget decision, the Senate's finance committee approved the commission's original budget of 678 million pesos.

"They only gave him 1,000 pesos (about $20) because Congress is angry". The Philippine National Police linked the drug war to more than 7,000 deaths between July 2016 and January 2017.

The agency has long complained it lacks manpower and resources to fully investigate the killings.

A Palace official said this Thursday after Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, an administration ally, called on Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Chito Gascon to toe the line or resign.

"The principal reason why I can not resign my office is that to do so is to weaken the institution itself", Gascon said.

Filipinos are largely supportive of Duterte's crackdown as a solution to tackling rampant crime stemming from drug addiction. The police reject that and say they kill only in self-defence.

Several senators, including those allied with the President, have vowed to restore CHR's budget.

The Supreme Court is meant to be another safeguard.

Lawmakers may have misunderstood the agency's role, said one representative, Raul del March.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said the new budget was "reprehensible and unconscionable".

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that if the budget cuts go through it "would deal a blow against accountability for human rights violations in the Philippines".

Al Hussein said he was also concerned by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator, mentioning the case of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos who was killed in an alleged shootout.

Additional reporting from Reuters.

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