CHR budget deliberation deferred until it has ‘strong stand vs abortion’

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday evening deferred its deliberation on the proposed 2024 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) until the agency comes up with a “strong stand against abortion.”

It was Senator Jinggoy Estrada, sponsor of CHR’s budget, who made the motion to defer the deliberation on the commission’s budget.

“We are 24 members here and we belong to different religions. We have a Muslim here, a Catholic, we have Christians and Protestants here. I think all of us agree that all of us are against abortion. Mr. President, I move that we defer first the deliberation of the budget of CHR until they come up with a strong stand against abortion,” said Estrada.

Estrada’s motion was then approved.

It was Senator Alan Peter Cayetano who initially brought up the talks on abortion. In his interpellation, Cayetano asked CHR what its stand was on decriminalizing abortion.

According to Cayetano, he came across an article where CHR Executive Director Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia was supposedly pushing for the decriminalization of abortion.

“May I know if this is true and what is the context of this? Is this an official CHR recommendation? Is it the recommendation of the Executive Director or is it a misquote?” prodded Cayetano.

Estrada, answering on behalf of CHR, confirmed that De Guia gave that statement in an event during the Aquino administration.

“Personally, I am against abortion. I am a devout Catholic and it is against the teachings of the church. It is penalized under existing laws and if ever the CHR is in favor of it, I will be the first one to oppose or go against them,” said Estrada.

Agreeing with Estrada’s remark, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri also said he is “vehemently against abortion at any stake.”

“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,” said Zubiri.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva likewise expressed disapproval of decriminalizing abortion, asking Estrada if this is the stand of the entire CHR or just De Guia.

“The present commission, according to the chairman, has not taken a stand with regard to the statement made by De Guia,” said Estrada.