Duterte attack on De Lima may hurt Senate probe – CHR chief

BAD TIMING. CHR Chair Chito Gascon notes the bad of President Rodrigo Duterte's attack on Senator Leila de Lima, as it was made days ahead of the Senate inquiry on drug-related killings.

File photo by Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon expressed concern that President Rodrigo Duterte's attack on Senator Leila de Lima may have a negative impact on the scheduled Senate probe into extrajudicial killings allegedly committed in the war on drugs.

Gascon said in interview with Rappler on Thursday, August 18, that the timing of Duterte's attack on the senator could not be more “unfortunate” as it was made days ahead of the Senate inquiry that De Lima will lead.

“We hope this does not create an atmosphere where the officials of the executive department, particularly the police who will be asked to submit their testimony before the Senate, are discouraged from cooperating fully,” Gascon told Rappler in an interview on Thursday, August 18.

“Attacking Senator de Lima that way – in a sense – creates that atmosphere especially if it has no basis,” he added. (READ: De Lima hits back: Duterte 'abuses, misuses' power

On Wednesday, Duterte accused the senator of having an affair with her driver who accepted drug money.

De Lima, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, is set to head the Senate inquiry into the spate of extrajudicial killings allegedly linked to the administration's war on drugs, on August 22 and 23.

Gascon also reminded his fellow public officials to respect the leaders from different branches of government. 

“We have become used to the fact that President Duterte makes very provocative public statements [but] I think it is important [that] we accord due respect to leaders in different branches of government,” he said.

“In our relations with each other, as we try to govern this country, we [should treat] each other with civility and cordiality,” the CHR chief added.

Duterte had earlier slammed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for formally expressing her concern over the "premature public announcement" of names of judges allegedly with drug links. (READ: FULL TEXT: Sereno's letter to President Duterte)

The President has since apologized to the Chief Justice. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.