Among the five agencies that are new additions to the Bangsamoro Expenditure Program (BEP), the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission has the highest budget appropriation, amounting to P97-million. Upon its creation last year, the Government allocated P50-million for the Commission’s initial operations.

Notably included is a P2-million allocation for financial assistance dedicated to victims and witnesses of human rights violations.

More than half of the BHRC  budget is appropriated for Personnel Services (PS), with P57.7-million allocated for the enhanced delivery of human rights services, and during armed conflict, uphold international humanitarian law. 

The Commission chose to focus on three thematic points, namely Human Rights Protection, Human Rights Promotion, and Human Rights Fulfillment. However, it is unclear how these themes will be carried out as programs on-ground in response to the prevailing human rights situation across the region.

As response to the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to continue, particularly through the implementation of the Bayanihan Act of 2020, it is necessary to assess how the BHRC will adapt to the changes in law enforcement practices. Said legislation has provisions that threaten certain rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression, right against unreasonable search and seizure, and the right to due process. 

In addition, with the passage of Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, there is a need to outline monitoring and response mechanisms that can provide support for victims of human rights violations that may arise from the implementation of the said law. This is especially urgent given the history of the Bangsamoro as a hotspot for illegal arrests based on John Doe warrants, discrimination against Muslims, and unfounded accusations levied against Muslim and indigenous peoples, especially those living in poor, far-flung communities.

Another focus that the BHRC must take up on is the transitional justice and reconciliation process in BARMM, especially given the ongoing political transition in the region. Programs and policies related to transitional justice must be laid-out alongside proposed appropriations in order to jumpstart the institutionalization of TJR as part of the BHRC’s programming. 

This series of infographics is the eight installment of the #BARMMBudgetWatch initiative of the Office of the Minority Floor Leader.