Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

United Nations rights commissioner 'gravely concerned' over PH killings

United Nations rights commissioner 'gravely concerned' over PH killings

"All drug killings are subject to investigations", he said.

In a vote yesterday, about four-fifths of lower house members present supported the move to cut the budget to nearly nil, in what critics of the anti-drugs campaign call retaliation for the agency's efforts to investigate thousands of killings over the past 15 months, Reuters reports.

The Speaker of the House called the commission useless and asked them during an interview why they needed to get a budget from the government if they were not doing their job.

Thousands have been killed since President Duterte launched the anti-drug crackdown previous year.

"I am also shocked by President Duterte's threat to bomb schools for indigenous children in the southern Philippines, which he said were teaching children to rebel against the government", Zeid said.

"If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals", he said.

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In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights said it regretted the decision to "undermine our role as a check-and-balance mechanism" which it said it did "without fear or favour, in a non-partisan manner, and as rightfully mandated by the 1987 constitution".

Critics of the anti-drugs campaign see the move as retaliation for the agency's criticism of Duterte and efforts to probe thousands of killings over the past 15 months.

More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data.

The CHR requested a budget of 1.72 billion pesos for 2018, but the government proposed 678 million.

Congressman Edcel Lagman said 32 minority lawmakers opposed the measure during the debate at the second reading.

But the PHP1,000 budget is not yet final, as it will still be deliberated in the Senate and in the Bicameral Conference Committee before being submitted to Duterte for final approval. However, the brutal campaign has maintained the support of many Filipinos exhausted of drug-driven crime in the country.

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CHR head, Chito Gascon, said the measly budget was an attempt to force his resignation.

Delos Santos was killed by the Caloocan City police on August 16 because the teenager allegedly shot at the cops and prompted them to retaliate.

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

In contrast, the House of Representatives earlier approved a PHP900 million ($17.68 million) budget for the Philippine police's anti-drug campaign.

On the issue on bombing indigenous schools, Abella said it would be better to focus on the Duterte administration's efforts for their education, claiming their program will receive P130.43 million to support nearly three million indigenous students.

Additional reporting from Reuters.

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