Aquino names LP official as new CHR chair

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon, a  Liberal Party (LP) official, as the new chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Gascon replaces Loretta “Etta” Rosales who retired as CHR chairperson effective May 5, 2015.  Executive Director Marc Cabreros served as CHR officer-in-charge prior to Gascon's appointment.

Aquino also appointed new CHR commissioners Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Leah Tanodra-Armamento, and Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, the sister of Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who ran and won under Team PNoy in 2013.

Their term will expire on May 5, 2022.

As of posting time, Gascon said he has yet to receive his appointment papers. He said, however, that he will prioritize increasing the capacity of the institution to fulfill its roles.

“Dahil hindi ko pa nakikita ang dokumento, hindi ko po alam ang mismong date ng appointment. May pending CHR charter bill na kailangan ipasa (Have not seen the document, so I don't know the exact date of appointment. There's a pending CHR charter bill that has to be passed),” Gascon said in a text message to Rappler.

Gascon, Vice President for Social Movements of the Aquino-led Liberal Party and a former LP director-general. He served as an Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Office of the Political Advisor from 2011 to 2014.

He is a member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB), a body attached to the CHR to administer programs and reparations for  human rights victims of the Marcos regime.

During the Arroyo administration, Gascon served as education undersecretary, and as a member of the goverment peace panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front. He was also involved in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The CHR is an independent office tasked to ensure that Filipinos’ political and civil rights, both in and out of the country, are protected.

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