Alvarez: If Gascon resigns, CHR commissioners should resign too
MANILA, Philippine – House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denied asking for the resignation of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon in exchange for a decent 2018 budget. However, he said, if Gascon were to resign, all 4 other commissioners should resign as well.
“Di naman ako nagsasabing kailangan mag resign siya,” (It was not me who said that Gascon must resign) said Alvarez on Friday, September 15, on the sidelines of a press conference at the Makati Shangri-La. Alvarez was asked if the House would reconsider slashing the CHR’s budget to P1,000 if Gascon would step. The Speaker is open about his disdain for Gascon.
“Eh kung mag resign siya, dapat lahat sila (If he’s going to resign, they might as well all resign,” he added.
Asked to clarify if he meant the CHR’s 4 commissioners, Alvarez said: “Dapat… maglagay tayo ng commissioners na naiintindihan ang mandato nila. Kung pag-iisip nila ay kaya sila andiyan yung mga human rights violations ng gobyerno aba’t mali iyon dahil hindi ka nag babasa ng provisions ng Constitution.” (That’s only right [for them to resign]. We should appoint commissioners who understand their mandate. If they think that they’re there solely to check on human rights violations by government, they’re wrong because they have not read the provisions of the Constitution.)
On September 12, the last day of plenary deliberations on the proposed 2018 budget, at least 113 legislators voted to slash the CHR’s budget from more than P600 million to a mere P1,000. Alvarez has insisted that this was not fueled by a vendetta or politics. Rather this is just the House doing its job of making sure agencies fulfill their mandates, said Alvarez.
Alvarez reiterated on Friday that based on the Constitution, the CHR must check on alleged human rights abuses against Filipinos here and abroad, regardless of who did it. The CHR, through its top officials and posts on its official social media accounts, have explained that their primary job is to check on alleged abuses by state actors – soldiers and police, for instance.
The Speaker, himself a lawyer, said this information was wrong. “That’s the wrong they’re trying to preach,” the Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative added.
“Sobrang kapal ng mukha niya kung sinasabi na ng karamihan na hindi niya ginagawa ang trabaho niya. Eh dapat mahiya ka na eh. Di mo na ginagawa trabaho mo, humihingi ka pa ng sweldo sa gobyerno,” said Alvarez, referring to Gascon, who he also blamed of protecting only the human rights of political allies. (When everyone is saying that you are not doing your job, you should already be ashamed of yourself. He has no shame. You’re not even doing your job and you expect a salary from the government.)
Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas agreed with Alvarez, pointing out that despite what is written in the Constitution, the CHR only emphasizes its role in checking on the state.
“Kaya tuloy ang perception, yung human rights eh parang sila ang nag-aabugado sa suspects or criminals (So the perception is they’re lawyering for suspects or criminals),” said Fariñas, who claimed the CHR did nothing in reaction to the bloody Mamasapano clash in 2015, harassments by the New People’s Army, and the Abu Sayyaf.
When asked about the assertion that it was the justice system – which involves police, lawyers, and courts – that ensured the rights of those victimized by criminals, Alvarez was adamant.
“Wala sa Constitution yan eh. Basahin nga nila ang Saligang Batas (That’s not in the Constitution. They should read it),” said Alvarez, pointing out that United Nations pronouncements should not be the basis for the CHR’s mandate. – Rappler.com