PHILIPPINES – If the Commission on Human Rights won’t make a stand against abortion, it may be given a zero budget for 2024

It is possible to give zero funding to the Commission on Human Rights, Senator Jinggoy Estrada said, adding that he would personally push for it with his colleagues if the agency does not come up with a definite position against abortion. This was after one of the CHR’s officials said they supported decriminalisation of abortion. Asked how the agency would be able to fulfil its mandate without funding for next year, Estrada retorted “They won’t operate.”

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano slammed the agency for its vague stance on the issue. In response, in a letter to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, published the same day, the Commission officially stated that it is against abortion, saying: “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,” according to a second article in the Inquirer.

However, according to data published in the Lancet Western Pacific in March 2023, the country’s anti-abortion law makes no exceptions for high-risk pregnancies (which could certainly be described as a form of extreme circumstances). 1.1 million induced abortions occur annually in the Philippines, a number that was estimated to increase by 14.6% in 2020. In 2013, 1,000 Filipino women were dying each year from post-abortion complications after illegal abortions. Today, unsafe abortion still contributes significantly to preventable maternal mortality among young, low-income and rural women, mainly due to haemorrhage, sepsis, genital trauma and bowel necrosis, with many survivors suffering long-term complications (e.g. poor wound healing, infertility, and incontinence).

SOURCES:, by Charie Abarca, 15 November 2023 ;, by Charie Abarca, 15 November 2023 ; Lancet Western Pacific, by Juan Raphael M Perez et al. 18 December 2022.

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