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Gordon fumes after CHR exec called him ‘coward’

Camille Elemia
Gordon fumes after CHR exec called him ‘coward’
Senator Richard Gordon wants the Commission on Human Rights to apologize to the Senate before he calls CHR witnesses to testify in the Senate probe

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon slammed a Commission on Human Rights commissioner for calling him a “coward” for “prematurely” suspending the probe into extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

It was Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, who raised the issue on the Senate floor on Wednesday, October 12.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, then took the chance to express his anger at the CHR after Zubiri’s speech.

If the CHR does not apologize to the Senate, Gordon said, he would not call the CHR witnesses and officials to testify in the hearing set for Thursday, October 13.

“Tomorrow, I am not going to call the Commission on Human Rights until an apology is made to the Senate. I will intend to continue the hearing,” Gordon said during the session.

On October 5, CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz criticized Gordon for being “unfair” to Senator Leila de Lima and witness Edgar Matobato. (READ: De Lima walks out after Gordon chastises her)

In a media report, Cadiz was quoted as saying: “So who’s running away from the Senate hearing? De Lima, Matobato, or Gordon and the other senators in the majority? Who’s closing this hearing?”

“Under the circumstances, there is every reason to believe it is Gordon who is afraid of this hearing. I challenge him, as a commissioner: The only way for him to recover his credibility as chairman is to continue with the hearing and listen to the other witnesses. Otherwise, there is every reason to believe he is the coward here and not Matobato or De Lima,” he added.

For Gordon, this is an assault to the Senate, even as he was the main subject of the attack.

“Coward? The lies perpetrated by this man. It also intends to show that the police have a responsibility to explain why they can’t solve the killings,” Gordon said.

“Let that commissioner skunk out of his responsibility. He should not skunk out like a skunk. He doesn’t deserve the dignity of being named here,” he added.

Gascon apology not enough

Gordon said CHR Chairman Chito Gascon already apologized to him. He, however, thinks that is not enough.

“Tumawag si Chairman Gascon from Amsterdam. Sabi ko kay Chito: ‘Walang problema, just dissociate yourself from the statement. Mawawalan kayo kakampi sa Senado.’ Sabi niya, ‘Ako bahala,'” Gordon said.

(Chairman Gascon called me from Amsterdam. I told Chito: “No problem, just dissociate yourself from the statement. You will lose allies in the Senate because of that.” He said, “Let me take care of it.”)

“But dumating ‘yung resolve niya, they were saying, ‘We hope the Senate will maintain independence.’ Nainsulto naman ako,” the senator said.

(When the resolve came, they were saying, “We hope the Senate will maintain independence.” I was insulted.)

Gordon maintained the CHR should apologize to the Senate as an institution for trying to “malign” it. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email