ON one hand, it is most decent to rant and rave against Congress’s ridiculous P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The CHR is a creation of the Constitution that is essential in a democratic state and must, therefore, not only exist in name but also operate in fact. P1,000 simply doesn’t cut it.
Congress, as many chide, is not ignorant of CHR’s mandate either. It is just arrogantly flouting its power to approve budgets. In doing so it crosses a line in the sand down a slippery political slope. If we don’t stop its slide, what will keep them from flat-lining other government bodies with near-zero budgets?
On the other hand, the rumor mill is rife with speculation that Congress was only after the chairman’s neck. True or false it takes nothing away from the grossness of what it has done. Yet, fair is fair and we must do some digging for what might be the basis for this inexcusably errant behavior. This is what I came up with.
When Duterte won, Mr. Chito Gascon should have resigned as CHR chairman because he, a Liberal Party official and member of the Executive Committee that managed PNoy’s campaign, served at the President’s pleasure. Delicadeza should have dictated that he gave the new president his right to appoint a successor.
(I personally think the CHR chairman should have a fixed tenure. But the late President Cory Aquino thought otherwise when she signed in 1987 Exec. Order (EO) 163-A that amended Section 2, sub-paragraph © of EO 163 and stipulated that the CHR chairman serves at the pleasure of the president.)
Mr. Gascon not only failed in delicadeza by staying on but fails again by not sticking to the knitty-gritty of quietly and professionally gathering hard evidence to use in the prosecution of officials suspected of violating human rights. Instead, he appears to simply rant and rave very much like a “Yellowtard” against the drug war and related extrajudicial killings (EJK).
For the record, as a government agency the CHR should unequivocally support a drug war that is meant to protect the rights of victims of drug lords and their police coddlers. But as CHR it should just as unequivocally oppose extrajudicial killings because target-suspects of the war do have rights.
For a human rights advocate, Mr. Gascon has an inarguably impressive record. The only blot is his high rank in the Liberal Party which opens him to the suspicion that his raves come from some place colored yellow and not neutral white.
It’s not like EJK’s happened only in Duterte’s watch. Hence, in fairness and to avert suspicions, Mr. Gascon must stand squarely between “Yellowtards” and “Dutertetards” hard evidence in hand on EJK perpetrators of past and present administrations.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 20, 2017.
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