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Press Release - CHR declares anti-abortion stance following Cayetano's push

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has officially declared its opposition to decriminalizing abortion a day after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano slammed the commission for its vague stance on the issue.

"CHR considers paramount the right to life. The Commission similarly adheres to the 1987 Philippine Constitution specifically, to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception, and is therefore, against abortion, save for extreme circumstances," the commission wrote in a letter sent to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

The Senate deferred the discussion on CHR's proposed budget for 2024 last Tuesday after Cayetano expressed disappointment with an earlier statement made by CHR Executive Director Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia advocating for the decriminalization of abortion in the country.

The independent senator stressed that the 1987 Philippine Constitution itself had made it clear that the government shall "equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception", and CHR, being bound by the Constitution, has no right to issue a stand opposite to that.

"Our constitution is quite unique kasi sinabi na 'life starts at conception'... Meaning [to say], the executive director of a very sensitive commission is giving her own opinion which is contrary to the Philippine Constitution. How come there is no outrage from the commission that there is such a statement?" Cayetano said.

He then prompted CHR to clarify its stand on the issue as an institution on the Senate floor, but the commission failed to categorically provide one.

"'Pag dine-criminalize mo, [para mong sinabi na] pwede na 'yun. How can you protect the unborn if you're not going to put any penalty to people who abort the fetus o baby? Jaywalking nga lang mayroon tayong penalty, eh," he added.

Senate President Zubiri, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who sponsored CHR's budget on the Senate floor, shared the independent senator's sentiment, resulting in the deliberation on CHR's budget being put on hold until the commission issues an official statement on abortion aligned with the