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Budget for body probing Duterte drugs war slashed to just $25

Budget for body probing Duterte drugs war slashed to just $25”

Human rights monitors said the CHR was a vital institution that stands no chance of doing its job without a proper budget.

"Mr. Al Hussein's broad references about the supposed policies of the President run counter to what he continues to pronounce", Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

Speaker of the House labelled the commission "useless".

The commission requested a budget of $34 million for 2018 but the government requested a drop, which was less than half of what the commission had asked for. The budget drop requires approval in the Senate but opponents say it will likely be approved since President Duterte has the majority in Congress and Senate.

Thousands have been killed throughout the Philippines since the president launched his war on drugs a year ago.

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to drastically cut the proposed budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), an agency that has investigated thousands of killings connected with the government's war on drugs.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings who has repeatedly criticized Duterte's administration for human rights violations as a result of its brutal war on drugs, slammed the PHP1,000 budget, saying the move is "reprehensible and unconscionable".

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

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

Filipinos are largely supportive of Duterte's crackdown as a solution to tackling rampant crime stemming from drug addiction.

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

However, activists say the prime targets have been users and small-time peddlers and accuse police of executing thousands of people.

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.

Human rights advocates hope senators will restore the agency's current budget. He said he would take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.

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

Police records show more than 3,800 people have died in police operations since July previous year, and more than 2100 other reported murders are linked to drugs.

Nicknamed "the Punisher" for his lethal approach to policing, Duterte has previously threatened to abolish CHR, a body he despises for its criticism of his killing campaign, although he later said his threat was a "joke".



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