MALACAÑANG on Thursday said it will not compel Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Jose Luis Martin "Chito" Gascon to quit his post amid the suggestions by some of the administration's allies in Congress.
Communications Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan said Palace may have felt a "little slighted" by Gascon's opposing views on the administration's programs and policies, particularly on war on illegal drugs, but it still acknowledged the imposition of "fixed term" among constitutional heads.
"Of course, anyone in the same position would feel a little slighted, if the opinions differ. So that’s very natural for every human being," Ablan told a press conference.
"But the official policy is they’re appointed for a fixed term, we respect the fixed term. They have their own opinions, this is a free country and so we respect the opinions of different heads of agencies," he added.
Ablan's statement came amid resignation calls of several lawmakers to Gascon over his supposed bias on defending people's rights.
Gascon's strong opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign created a backlash, prompting 119 members of the House of Representatives to cut CHR's 2018 budget to P1,000 from the original proposal of P678 million.
The measly fund allotted by House for CHR may still be changed when the Senate begins its budget deliberations. Bicameral conference committee will then reconcile differences on their respective proposed budget for CHR.
In a September 13 interview, the President said he already expected the House's decision to give the human rights commission a meager budget.
Duterte blamed Gascon for speaking against the administration "in a most inappropriate way."
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Tuesday that the CHR's budget might still be modified, only if Gascon steps down from office.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed Alvarez's demand, saying that Gascon should give up his post if he cannot support the government's crackdown on illegal drugs.
Gascon, who has a fixed term that will expire in 2022, remained unfazed by lawmakers' calls for his resignation. (SunStar Philippines)