Fight for rights, freedom, CHR chief urges students
COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Chito Gascon has urged student leaders to fight for truth, freedom, justice and democracy amid the challenges brought about by the “changes” under the Duterte administration.
Among the “changes,” Gascon cited the surge in the number of extrajudicial killings, mostly of suspected drug offenders.
The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) condemned the summary executions after the killing of an honor student in Pangasinan, 22-year-old Rowena Tiamson.
Speaking at a forum at San Sebastian College in Manila, Gascon told the student leaders: “Our generation fought long and hard for the freedoms that you now enjoy. Do not let this freedom be undermined.”
He added, “Do not surrender your rights and freedom for a promise of safety and security that you might soon regret, you won’t even get—and yet you’ve lost your freedom.”
“We know in our hearts, our guts, in our spirits what justice is about,” he said.
“This generation of young leaders will have to grapple with so many current issues. And this current moment demands a response from you,” the CHR chair said.
He said the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) website was temporarily forced to shut down by a deluge of negative remarks and comments from “the fans of the President” and was hacked after it came out with an analytical and very critical report on President Duterte’s anticrime efforts.
“They (Duterte’s followers) attacked the PCIJ website so it was closed down. Thankfully it was put up again,” Gascon said, adding that he too received “regular threats” from the President’s fans who are very active in social media.
Meanwhile, SCAP has denounced the extrajudicial killings of students and other youth, or what it called “cardboard justice.”
Cardboard tags are placed on some victims, saying they were “pushers” and should not be emulated.
Nancy Fernandez of SCAP said in a statement, “We again implore President Duterte
—keep us alive. Don’t kill off the youth in this war on drugs.”
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