CHR commissioners won’t quit
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is standing by its description of the state’s abuse of authority in the country that has drawn renewed calls for the resignation of its chair and commissioners.
In a statement, CHR Chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon welcomed the criticism but insisted that they were an independent body with a nonpartisan agenda.
“I will pursue the mandate of my office to the best of my ability without fear or favor as part of the constitutional framework of checks and balances that has given constitutional offices such as the CHR with monitoring and oversight functions,” Gascon said.
He made the statement in response to criticisms of the 12-minute speech he delivered at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway on May 29. A video of his speech went viral on social media.
‘Rise of strongmen’
The caption of the video said the speech showed “how President Duterte’s so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has led to the deaths of thousands, rampant human rights violations, and the blatant abuse of state authority.”
“Gascon identifies a growing trend in the rise of strongmen and widespread threats to democracy around the world. He calls for all of us to acknowledge this trend and work proactively to reimagine democracy for the 21st century,” the Oslo Freedom Forum’s official Facebook post read.
Gascon’s speech drew the ire of supporters of Mr. Duterte who said it was “misleading,” “false” and “antigovernment.”
Others called for the resignation of Gascon and commissioners Roberto Cadiz, Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana and Leah Tanodra-Armamento — all of whom were appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Gascon dismissed insinuations that the CHR was biased against the Duterte administration.
“As an office established by the Constitution to monitor and check against abuse of authority involving human rights, the CHR must be independent from the political branches of government in order to hold duty-bearers accountable,” he said in a text message to the Inquirer.
As for calls for their resignation, Gascon said the law established mechanisms to ensure that “public officers maintained fidelity” to their solemn oaths of office.
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