CHR's Gascon to Duterte: Words matter
MANILA, Philippines – Regardless of whether or not President Rodrigo Duterte will make good on his threats, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Chito Gascon reminded him to raise the public discourse since "words matter" – especially those coming from the Philippines' highest official.
"Words matter whether spoken in public or in private and this is particularly important to remember when words are spoken by those who are supposed to be our leaders," Gascon said in a statement on Wednesday, November 22.
"What they say could indicate policy, they could incite followers to a particular action, and worse, they could serve to orient our children as to what could be viewed as acceptable language or behavior," he added. (READ: A foul-mouthed 2016: The year in Duterte's curses)
Gascon's statement comes after Duterte once again threatened the CHR chairperson on Tuesday, November 21.
"Human rights, bakit ka tahimik diyan? Kaya itong si Gascon, putang ina kapag nakita kita, leche ka – better avoid that we cross paths. Putang ina, sampalin talaga kita," the President said during the 65th General Assembly of the League of Cities of the Philippines.
(Human rights, why are you quiet there? This Gascon, son of a bitch, when I see you – better avoid that we cross paths. Son of a bitch, I will slap you.)
"Totoo lang, hindi ko malaman kung bakla ka. Either masipa kita, 'di man ako mademanda," Duterte also said.
(Truth be told, I don't know if you're gay. It's either I will kick you, I won't get sued.)
This is not the first time Duterte lashed out against Gascon. Last September, he slammed Gascon for allegedly politicizing the CHR – even calling him a pedophile for supposedly focusing on two teenagers killed by police. (READ: Kian and Carl: What the deaths of two boys have in common)
Gascon, however, said the CHR will continue to perform its functions "whatever Duterte's personal attitude to us might be."
"Wala pong personalan, trabaho lang po tayo pare-pareho sang-ayon sa batas (Don't take it personally, let's all just work within the law)," he said.
The CHR and other human rights advocates have been the target of tirades by the President and his allies as they continue to criticize his violent war on drugs. Around 3,967 suspected drug personalities have been killed during police operations as of October 25.
On November 9, Duterte also threatened to slap United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard if she investigates him for alleged extrajudicial killings.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Tuesday condemned "the repeated insults and threats of physical violence against [Callamard] by the President of the Philippines and his supporters." – Rappler.com