European business group worried over CHR budget


Posted at Sep 14 2017 03:47 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2017 05:33 PM

MANILA – European businessmen on Thursday expressed concern over the House of Representatives’ endorsement of a P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights.

Such a move would not send a good message to foreign investors, said European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Guenter Taus.

“It’s the common understanding everybody not only us. You want to make sure human rights are respected. And a 1,000-peso budget for a department that is very vital to international reputation doesn’t really send the right signals,” he told reporters.

“Well until such time it is corrected, it certainly is a big issue. I really don’t think this is sustainable to keep the department on a budget of P1,000 so I am very sure and hopeful that this will be corrected,” he said.

Opposition senators have pledged to block the P1,000 budget endorsed by the House on the CHR, which had repeatedly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Both chambers of Congress need to reconcile their respective versions of the budget before Duterte can sign it into law.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he hoped lawmakers would resolve the budget standoff.

Asked about a potential reenactment of the 2017 budget next year, Diokno said, “I don’t think it will happen.” — from a report by Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News


Diokno thinks 2018 budget deadlock unlikely to happen

(UPDATED) While Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno is not worried over conflicts on the proposed budget of the Commission on Human Rights, a foreign business leader says the issue is ‘not sending the right signals’ to investors

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said a deadlock over the 2018 budget is unlikely to happen, as the Senate and the House of Representatives will likely find common ground on the budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

A deadlock would mean reenactment of the P3.35-trillion 2017 budget, if the P3.76-trillion 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) would not be passed.

 “I don’t think it will happen,” Diokno told reporters on the sidelines of the Arangkada Philippines Forum 2017 in Pasay City on Thursday, September 14.

“At this time, I’m not worried about what’s going to happen. I’ll just look at what will come out of the third chamber (bicameral conference committee). Let’s not speculate on what’s gonna happen,” he added. (READ: How the House voted for a P1,000 CHR budget)

On Wednesday, September 13, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned of a possible deadlock in the 2018 budget, should the House insist on a P1,000 budget for the CHR, the constitutional body mandated to look into alleged abuses by state forces.

While the House approved a measly P1,000 budget for the CHR, the Senate vowed to restore the proposed P678-million allocation.

“The budget process is like this – we submit the budget to the House, copy-furnish the Senate, so the House, under the Constitution, has the first crack at the budget. If there are disagreeing provisions, they will form what is called a [bicameral] conference committee or what we call the third chamber,” Diokno said.

The committee will be composed of lawmakers from the Senate and the House, tasked to reconcile differences and come up with a national budget that is acceptable to both chambers. (READ: Bicol lawmaker: P1,000 budget a ‘wake-up call’ for CHR)

“Under the Constitution, each branch of government – the executive, the Senate president, the senators, the House, plus the constitutional commissions – they can augment. So as long as there is a P1 budget there, it can be augmented,” Diokno said.

‘Wrong signals’

While Diokno is not worried over conflicts on the proposed budget of the CHR, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said slashing the allocation to P1,000 is “not sending the right signals” to investors.

“We will not be able to grow [investments] if we can’t contain peace and order. It is vital to bring businesses here. More so with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration, people have more options on where to project their investments,” ECCP president Guenter Taus said in a press briefing.

He pointed out the 14% decline year-on-year in net inflow of job-creating foreign direct investments (FDI) to $3.6 billion in the 1st half of the year.

“We have to look at long-term solutions, meaning that goes with the political stability of the country,” Taus told reporters.

Aside from the CHR, the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Commission on Indigenous Peopleswere also given a P1,000 budget each. –


ECCP: Philippines ‘not sending the right signals’ to foreign investors

 / 03:51 PM September 14, 2017

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said on Thursday that concerns in the political stability of the country, including the substantial downsizing of the 2018 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), is “not sending the right signals” to foreign investors.

ECCP President Guenter Taus said that the national government needs to look into long term solutions that would make the country look attractive to new investors that may want to set up shop here. However, he said that inviting new investments from overseas is “becoming more and more difficult.”

Taus made this assertion as he noted that the anticipated job gains to be brought about by the so-called “golden age of infrastructure” may be temporary, citing project-based construction jobs as an example.

“We have to look at long term solutions, meaning that goes with the political stability of the country as well as with the peace and order, and everything else. With a budget of $20 for the human rights commission, I don’t think we’re sending the right signals,” he said in a press briefing during the Arangkada Philippines forum.

This is the first time that ECCP has spoken up against the downsized budget of the CHR, which has been recently voted by a majority of lawmakers in the lower house giving it a budget of P1,000 for 2018 — a move which has received backlash not only in the local front, but in the international community as well.

Prior to this, the CHR only faced a 10-percent cut in its budget, or P649.48 million, as proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). This developed as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to defund the CHR for criticizing the thousands killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

However, ECCP said in previous media interviews that investors see the Philippines differently from outside looking in, citing how the country is portrayed in international press for its dismal record on human rights violations.

This is supported by a recent survey among EU business based here in the Philippines which showed that a lot of them are still confident about the economic outlook of their companies here in the country. However, Taus said that the concern is more with the new companies that may want to enter the Philippines.

“We have been here long enough to understand how the [country works]. It’s bringing in new investments that (are) becoming more and more difficult,” he said. /kga


CHR getting meager budget sends bad signal to foreign investors—JFC member

 / 03:18 PM September 14, 2017
Members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines hold a press conference at the sixth Arangkada Philippines Forum in Pasay City. Photo by Pathricia Ann Roxas/

A member of the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce (JFC) warned on Thursday that the House of Representatives’ approval of a measly P1,000 budget to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for 2018 sends a bad signal to foreign investors.

Guenter Taus, JFC member and president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), said that the country needs to send the right signals to prove that the Philippines is “the destination of choice” for investors.

“We need to send the right signals out that we are the destination of choice. ‘Cause in my opinion if you really want sustainable growth, it is not enough to just build, build, build because build, build, build will end at one point in time,” Taus said in a press conference during the JFC’s Arangkada Philippines forum in Pasay City.

“… (With) the budget of $20 for the human rights commission, I don’t think we’re sending the right signals,” he added.

On Tuesday, the lower house slashed CHR’s budget to P1,000 after 1-Sagip Representative Rodante Marcoleta criticized the agency’s failure to investigate rights violations committed by criminals and terrorists.

READ: House gives Commission on Human Rights P1,000 budget for 2018

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also previously threatened to give a zero budget to the commission for “always criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.”

Meanwhile, the ECCP leader underscored that aside from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build Program,” which aims to usher the golden age of infrastructure in the country by 2022, the government should also look at long-term solutions that will create jobs for Filipinos.

“We have to encourage all the industries here now. We still want to attract them to stay here and move forward and see that we build the much needed jobs that we’ve been promising people. Because it doesn’t help that you have infrastructure projects this year and then what’s next?” Taus said.

The country’s leaders, Taus said, should also plan for sustainable growth that “goes with political stability, as well as the peace and order.” /jpv