Palace mourns passing of CHR chairperson Gascon
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday condoled with the family and friends of the late Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chito Gascon who succumbed to COVID-19 on Saturday.
“Nakikiramay kami sa pagyao ni CHR chairman Jose Luis Martin ‘Chito’ Gascon,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
(We are expressing our condolences to the family and friends on the death of Gascon.)
“We offer our prayers as tributes pour in to honor the life and service of Chairman Gascon. May he rest in peace,” he added.
Gascon’s brother Miguel confirmed his death on Saturday morning.
Friends and colleagues in civil society and political circles paid tribute to him.
Gascon, 57, was appointed chair of the commission in 2015 by then President Benigno Aquino III and would have completed a seven-year term in May 2022.
Aquino’s successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, proved to be Gascon’s worst critic, publicly attacking the CHR chief for being critical of and launching investigations into his bloody war on drugs.
CHR under Gascon always faced harsh criticism from Malacañang and many of Duterte’s allies and supporters.
Before being CHR chairperson, Gascon was a member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, a quasi-judicial body created in 2013 through Republic Act 10368 which seeks to process the reparation of victims of human rights abuses during martial law under the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Gascon fought the Marcos dictatorship as a student leader and activist.
He also served as Board Member of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) from 2010–2011, then as a member of the Office of the President from 2011-2014.
When the late former President Corazon Aquino assumed power after Marcos was toppled, she appointed the young Gascon to be a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, the youngest member to have served the body at that time.
During the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gascon served as undersecretary of the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) from 2002-2005.
He later joined the so-called “Hyatt 10,” a group of Cabinet secretaries who resigned from their posts following the “Hello, Garci” election scandal that rocked the Arroyo government after the 2004 presidential elections.