Lawmakers oppose Commission on Human Rights for backing abortion, risks ‘zero budget’

By: Thea Divina
November 16, 2023

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is placed at risk of zero budget for 2024 as it goes head to head with lawmakers on abortion. Photo courtesy of Inquirer.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is at risk of having “zero budget” after putting off the agency’s P944-million proposed budget for 2024.

They are also threatened by government officials to stop its operations after its supposed declaration of agreeing to abortion under extreme circumstances of ending one’s pregnancy with the condition of medical reasons only. 

The commission’s stand was included in a letter sent to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri highlighting the previous statement made by CHR’s Executive Director Jacqueline De Guia supporting abortion “save for extreme circumstances”.

“The Commission on Human Rights considers the right to life. The Commission similarly adheres to the 1987 Constitution specifically, to ‘equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,’ and is therefore, against abortion, save for extreme circumstances,” the letter stated.

“As the national human rights institution of the country, we shall continue to support the international human rights framework, its mechanisms and recommendations, including the rights of women,” the letter added.

Lawmakers have questioned the commission’s stance including Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who also sponsors the CHR budget, said he would no longer support the agency if they pursued to decriminalize abortion. 

“I, in conscience, cannot defend a budget whose officials are espousing abortion,” Estrada said.

Other male senators including Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva have asserted their opinions on the matter expressing opposition to abortion and disapproval of the commission’s position. 

“May I also put on record that this representation, the Senate President of the Philippines, is vehemently against abortion at any stage. I just want to…put in the records of this august chamber that there are people who are willing to fight for life not for death, particularly defenseless children who have no opportunity to have a voice of their own,” Zubiri stated.

Abortion remains illegal and punishable under the law in the Philippines wherein majority of its population practices Catholicism. 

According to Guttmacher Institution there are a total of 3,770,000 pregnancies annually between 2015 to 2019, with 1,930,000 unintended pregnancies and 973,000 ended in abortion.

In 2020 it is estimated to have reached over 1.26 million.