Senate defers CHR budget deliberation over abortion stance

(ABS-CBN NEWS) MANILA — The Senate on Tuesday deferred the deliberation on the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) P934 million budget next year after senators asked for a clear stand on the issue of abortion.

During the plenary debates, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asked CHR budget sponsor Sen. Jinggoy Estrada about an alleged statement made by CHR Executive Director Jacqueline De Guia supporting the decriminalization of abortion in the Philippines. 

“Kasama sa pinu-push allegedly is abortion, to decriminalize abortion. May I know if this is true and what is the context of this, is it an official CHR recommendation or is this a misquote?” Cayetano asked. 

De Guia was present at the Senate and confirmed that she made the statement. 

“She confirmed to me that she gave that statement during the 5th Commission which was headed then by Commissioner Chito Gaston during the Aquino administration,” Estrada said.

De Guia was the spokesperson of the CHR when she made that statement. 

“It was the position of the 5th Commission under then Chair Chito Gascon and Ms. Jacqueline De Guia was the spokesperson during the 5th Commission,” Estrada explained.

Estrada added: “She (De Guia) does not support abortion, she only supports decriminalization in so far as it affects the life of the mother.” 

According to the CHR, many women die because of unsafe abortion operations.

Estrada emphasized that as a devout Catholic, he himself is not in favor of abortion. 

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

Estrada later supported a manifestation to defer the deliberation. 

“If they continue to espouse the decriminazalition or support the abortion per se, I’m sorry I will be unable to defend this budget,” Estrada said.