Possible impeachment complaint? CHR's Gascon says he's ready
MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Chito Gascon is ready in case an impeachment complaint is lodged against him in the near future.
"Kung iyan po ang mangyayari, magaganap, handa po tayong harapin iyan dahil wala po akong kinakahiya, tinatago sa usapin ng aking trabaho," Gascon said on Monday, August 7. "Gagawin ko ang tungkulin ko ayon sa nakatakda sa Saligang Batas."
(If that's what is going to happen, then I'm ready to face that because I do not have anything to be ashamed of, I do not have anything to hide regarding my job. I do my best to perform my duty under the Constitution.)
This comes after the CHR's performance in the past year was criticized during its budget hearing at the House of Representatives.
Kabayan Representative Harry Roque called out Gascon for allegedly being used as a political tool by the opposition, hitting the commission's "silence" regarding violations of previous administrations.
"Will you consider resigning to protect [the] integrity of CHR?" asked Roque, a human rights lawyer, highlighting Gascon's past as former Liberal Party (LP) director-general.
Gascon, however, stated that his record "speaks for itself," maintaining that the CHR "has no color of partisanship and politics."
"I stand by my records both in and outside government. When I was asked to accept human rights work, I had disengaged [from] my role in politics since 2014," he said.
"It's only about uncovering the truth, facts, and speaking truth to power. The commission stands by its records in various administrations," he added.
Betrayal of public trust?
But Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, warned that Gascon could be impeached for supposedly not being impartial.
"Betrayal of public trust," Alvarez said when asked on what basis. "Namimili eh, kung sino lang 'yung gusto niyang protektahan, eh paano 'yung mga biktima (He chooses who they want to protect, how about the victims)?"
This is the latest in a series of tirades against the CHR, which has been condemning alleged human rights abuses in Duterte's war on drugs.
The President, after his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 24, had said that the CHR is "better abolished." The commission, however, can only be abolished by amending the provisions that created it in the 1987 Constitution. (READ: Give CHR zero budget if it cannot be abolished – Alvarez)
Gascon maintained that he would continue doing his job.
"Ginagampanan ko ang trabaho ko na independent at non-partisan at kung meron po silang ganyang perception, nasa utak na ng bawat isang tao niyan. Gagawin ko ang tama, ipaglalaban ko ang karapatang pantao kahit sino man ang tumuligsa," he said.
(I am doing my job independently and I am non-partisan, and if they have a different perception, it's all in their head. I will do what's right and fight for human rights regardless who criticizes us.)
As mandated in the 1987 Constitution, the CHR is responsible for investigating allegations of human rights abuses by state actors such as the military or police. The commission can also monitor whether or not the state holds them accountable. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines) – Rappler.com