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By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

“Relax.”

This is what Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto replied Friday to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ challenge that he should use his own money to raise the proposed budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which the lower chamber thumbed down.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Alvarez, in a television interview earlier the same day, lashed out at Recto for proposing that the CHR needs a higher budget considering the spate of extra-judicial killings recently.

“Dagdagan niya ng pera niya kung ‘yon ang gusto niya (Increase it with his money if that’s what he wants),” Alvarez said.

But Recto, in his response to the House leader, said “Relax lang. Government says EJK is not state-sponsored — then it should not be afraid of providing more resources to CHR, the duly constituted office whose mandate is to protect human rights.”

Recto, while maintaining his belief that President Duterte was not behind them, said “it cannot be denied that there are too many killings, including children.”

He said rogue policemen are possibly abusing their authority.

“Let’s strengthen all institutions of government, including the CHR,” he said in a statement today.

The two Congress chambers have yet to debate in a bicameral session the restoration of the CHR’s P649.5-million proposed budget for 2018. The Senate approved the allocation, while the House did not, giving it a measly P1,000 budget.

Alvarez earlier said he would agree with reverting the agency’s budget should its chairman, Chito Gascon, who is a staunch critic of the administration’s war on drugs, resign from his post.

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