His budget or his head: Alvarez to rescind CHR’s P1,000-budget if Gascon resigns

Image from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's Facebook account
  • CHR official said House Speaker willing to have allies recall CHR’s P1,000-budget for 2018
  • She said Alvarez to do this in exchange for CHR chairman’s resignation
  • Gascon adamant, said resignation would further embolden Congress

MANILA, Philippines  –  On the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)’s P1,000 budget, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez may yet change his mind — in exchange for Chairman Chito Gascon’s head.

CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said this much after she met Alvarez who indicated his willingness to give the Commission its requested P678 million budget for 2018 provided that Gascon resigns.

“He just expressed, of course his feelings, the same way as he said in public that he intends to pursue the P1,000 budget for the CHR,” she told Rappler. “He did mention that if the Chair would step down, probably the budget would be increased or given to the CHR.

A sister of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Pimentel-Gana had been the CHR’s unofficial emissary to Alvarez but was unsuccessful in swaying his mind.

In response, Gascon said he won’t step down as this might embolden Congress to bully independent constitutional offices like the CHR into submission.

“The principal reason why I cannot resign my office is to do so will weaken the institution itself,” he said. “Under the set of circumstances where the Congress would respond to an independent constitutional office this way and to threaten it with a reduction in its budget on the pretext of asking me to resign would lead to essentially making the institution forever at the mercy of politics.”

The House’s proposal would still have to go through the Senate which has been more sympathetic to the CHR’s plight, as well as the two chambers’ bicameral committee.

“We hope that reason, necessity, and rational minds will prevail both in the Senate and in the bicameral committee,” Gascon said.