Abolish CHR? Take it up in Charter change talks – CHR chair
MANILA — In response to President Duterte’s statement that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is “better abolished,” the chair of the constitutionally created body has issued a gentle reminder that it would take constitutional amendments or Charter change to do that.
“Any discussion to abolish CHR or any other institution for that matter can be taken in the proposed constitutional-reform process… In other words, we shall cross the bridge when we get there,” CHR chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon said in a text message to media on Tuesday, when sought for his reaction to Duterte’s rants against human rights advocates during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) and his subsequent press conference on Monday evening.
Duterte said in the press conference that the CHR, which has kept a watchful and disapproving eye on state-perpetrated abuses in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs and declaration of
martial law in Mindanao, was “better abolished.”
“I will not allow my men to go there to be investigated. Human Rights Commission, you address your request through me because the Armed Forces is under me and the police is under me,” Duterte warned.
Gascon, in his statement, simply responded that “The CHR has a constitutional mandate and will continue its responsibilities of fact-finding and documenting of human rights violations as well as
inform the public about the importance of human rights in society.”
“I remain hopeful human rights will be affirmed,” Gascon said, although he also admitted that Duterte’s statements during the SONA and the press conference “remove any doubt regarding the attitude his administration will take towards respecting the human rights guarantees enshrined in the Constitution.”
“The actions during the first year of his presidency coupled with his words said over the same period exhibits an utter disregard for due process, equal protection, and other civil liberties. This has encouraged the deepening of impunity,” Gascon said.
“The CHR asks the public to continue to remain steadfast in advancing human rights,” Gascon added. SFM/rga