CHR chair full of himself, says Alvarez
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez accused Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon of being “thick-skinned” and “too full of himself” to the detriment of people’s interests.
Saying the CHR had failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate, Alvarez demanded that Gascon and all the agency’s commissioners resign from their constitutional posts.
“Our concern here is performance of duties. Whether they resign or not, that’s not our primary concern. They have to perform their mandate,” Alvarez said in a press conference in Makati City.
“[Gascon] is overly thick-skinned. When most people are saying that you are not performing your job, that you are not doing your job, you should be ashamed of yourself,” Alvarez said.
‘Full of himself’
The Speaker said Gascon was “too full of himself” and had been very selective in protecting human rights.
Alvarez cited the instance when Gascon visited detained Sen. Leila de Lima to check on her rights when he did not even bother to visit other inmates at the facility.
“I asked him, ‘Who else did you visit?’ He said ‘no one else’ because he had no time.’ Why did he visit just one person?” the Speaker asked.
In another key instance, Alvarez said the CHR did nothing to investigate the Mamasapano incident in January 2015 when 44 police commandos were killed in clashes with insurgents.
Open to reform
Alvarez said the House was willing to allocate sufficient funds to the CHR but the agency needed to convince congressmen it would be impartial in implementing programs.
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas agreed the CHR would have to change its current policies.
Fariñas said it was clearly stated in the Constitution that the CHR was duty-bound to investigate all forms of human rights violations, including civil and political rights.
“Their emphasis is on state actions and alleged human rights violations committed by police and military,” reiterating a position repeatedly aired by CHR officials.
“So the impression is they are lawyering for suspects and criminals, like the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.
Aware of duties
But CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz said his fellow commissioners were aware of their duties and lawmakers are only muddling the issue.
“That kind of narrative is meant to confuse people … to justify the obviously unjustifiable move to eradicate a constitutional commission, especially during these times.” Cadiz added.
“Human rights is all about maintaining not only civil and political rights, but also social, cultural and economic rights,” he said. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND JHESSET O. ENANO
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