Duterte doubts CHR’s neutrality on HR issues, tags CHR chief as pro-Aquino

Sep. 14, 2017

Photo of Chito Gascon taken from Commission on Human Rights’ Facebook page

DAVAO CITY, Philippine​s – ​President Rodrigo Duterte expressed doubt Wednesday about the neutrality of the Commission on Human Rights in handling human rights cases and tagged ​its head​,​ Chito Gascon​,​ ​”pro-Aquino​”​.

“Ito si Gascon, palibhasa pro-dilaw talaga, [Gascon is really pro-yellow (read: pro-Aquino)], he opens his mouth in a most inappropriate way and he conducts the business of being CHR. Walang alam [He knows nothing],” the Duterte said in a media interview Wednesday, September 13.

The President ​said Gascon ​has ​earned the ire of lawmakers, ​to ​explain why Congress approved only a ​token budget of P1,000 for CHR’s budget for fiscal year 2018.

“Yan galit ang mga congressman. Wala… Ako walang akong ano sa kanya. Bigyan mo ‘yan ng budget. For all I care kung anong gusto niyang imbestigahan​ ​(The Congressmen are angry. I don’t have any issues with him. Give the CHR a budget. For all I care if whatever he wants to investigate)” Duterte said.

The tough-talking chief executive has criticized how the CHR conducts investigation on the Marawi crisis after the agency dispatched a team to investigate whether or not violations may have been committed.

“You know because the ​[CHR] will not investigate the Maute or the ISIS. The Human Rights Commission is geared to investigate government abuses and mistakes, shortcomings, whatever,” Duterte said.

“When you are an investigating agency and you are empowered to investigate and to prosecute recommendation, itong g***** Gascon na ‘to, nakikialam pa doon sa during the incident,” he added.

The CHR is mandated to “monitor the Philippine Government’s compliance with international treaty on human rights” as provided under Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.

But the President argued that CHR has no prosecutory power but it could only recommend sanctions.

“You have already concluded na merong violation dito, ganun-ganun. Ang gawain mo maghintay sila​ (…that there is violation here. What you must do, wait.) They cannot just investigate,” Duterte said.

“Bantayan nila ‘yung pulis, tingnan nila​ (Check on the police)​. They collate. They collate. Ipunin​ (collate)​. Then they make a study and then they file the appropriate recommendation.”

On the other hand, ​the​ New York-based Human Rights Watch ​criticized the House of Representatives for appropriating a meager budget for CHR, ​”​virtually making the commission useless​.”​

“While the CHR’s performance as a constitutional body may not have been fully satisfactory to many Filipinos, its mandate is important in combatting human rights abuses. Instead of defunding it, Congress should increase its resources and ensure that it fulfills that mandate,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Kine said the move of Congress would mean “a blow against accountability for human rights violations in the Philippines,” adding that “if the Senate concurred with this proposal by the Lower House, Congress would effectively defund the CHR. “

“The vote by an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives is part of the Duterte administration’s attempt to prevent independent institutions to check its abuses, particularly in the context of the brutal drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands, including dozens of children,” Kine added.(davaotoday.com)

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