Philippines congress votes to slash human rights budget to £15

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Lawmakers in the Philippines have voted to cut the budget to the public body investigating the country’s war on drugs to 1,000 pesos – which is £15.

The massive cut to its annual Commission on Human Rights budget was supported in the country’s Congress by a margin of 119 to 32.

It comes after the Commission initially requested a budget of 1.72 billion pesos (£25m) for next year.

Pantaleon Alvarez, speaker of the House of Representatives, branded the Commission “useless” following the announcement.

But some critics have said the controversial move is punishment for the body’s committed criticism of the president’s drugs war.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte launched the drug crackdown last year, which aims to wipe out the country’s drug trade, thousands have been killed. 

It is the Commission on Human Rights that investigates these killings.

The cut to its budget is huge, after last year it received 749 million pesos (£11m).

Congressman Edcel Lagman, who opposed the cut, said the supporters of it in Congress were “virtually imposing the death penalty on a constitutionally created and mandated independent office”.

Defending the slash to the commission’s budget, Mr Alvarez said: “If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals.”

According to the BBC, he then accused the commission of incompetence, saying: “Why should you get budget from the government and yet you are not doing your job?”

The motion still requires approval in the Senate, but opponents say it is likely to be passed because President Duterte has a majority in the two chambers.

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