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Duterte slams CHR chief: Are you a pedophile?

Duterte again hit the CHR for allegedly being so concerned with the killing of teenagers in the government’s war against drugs but ignoring other cases of abuse. PCOO/Released

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte last night heaped insults anew at Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon, asking him if he is “gay” or a “pedophile.”

Duterte again hit the CHR for allegedly being so concerned with the killing of teenagers in the government’s war against drugs but ignoring other cases of abuse.

Itong si Gascon…parang pedophile kang pu**** i** ka! Bakit ka mahilig masyado sa teenager (This Gascon…he is like a pedophile, son of a b****! Why are you so fond of teenagers)?” Duterte said in Davao after the release of SPO2 George Canete Rupinta, who had been held for three months by the New People’s Army.

“Nagdududa tuloy ako eh. Bakla ka o pedophile ka? (I now have my doubts. Are you gay or a pedophile)? Why is this guy suffocated about the issue of young people, especially boys? Are you a pedophile? Do you want the young? You almost cry blood. Of course it’s repugnant. You are so fixated with young males. So I have doubts if you are a pedophile, gago ka (you are stupid), idiot,” he added.

Duterte also said he wants to meet Gascon one of these days, and accused the CHR chief of being a political pawn and spokesman of the Liberal Party and other critics who want him out of the presidency.

“Every day in Marawi, there are terrorists raping women but you are not saying anything. You rode on the line of the political enemy, that is the problem.

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Puro teenager. Teenager… p*** pulitika lahat (Always teenager. Teenager…son of a b****, it is all politics). Can’t you move to other issues that are besetting this country?” he added.

Despite the spate of summary killings of teenagers allegedly by the police, Duterte maintained that he would not stop the bloody war against drugs,  “otherwise, the country will go to the dogs.” 

“I either rise or fall on the issues of corruption, drugs and criminality. There will be no let-up in the campaign against organized crime. Drugs is an organized crime,” he added.

As to the P1,000 budget the House of Representatives has given to the CHR for 2018, Duterte said it will be up to Congress to restore the P600-million budget of the CHR.

‘False info’ hit

Before Duterte’s latest tirade against Gascon, the CHR chairman yesterday criticized the spread of false information that officials of the human rights body are serving at the pleasure of the President.

In a post on Facebook, Gascon slammed the circulation of an executive order, signed by the late president Corazon Aquino, mandating that the terms of office of CHR officials are subject to the will and pleasure of the chief executive.

The order has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) after it was challenged by former CHR chief Mary Concepcion Bautista in 1989.

Aquino’s unconstitutional order is being spread amid calls of the allies of the Duterte administration for Gascon to vacate his post in exchange of receiving its budget, which was cut by the House of Representatives to P1,000.

“The executive order was declared unconstitutional by the honorable Supreme Court. That it is once more being surfaced without context is another indicator of a current world we live in where alternative facts (falsehoods!) being passed on as truth,” Gascon said.

He also said such actions prevent genuine dialogue and meaningful conversation on public matters in common and safe space.

Gascon also quoted a section of the SC ruling, which stated that the CHR would not be able to function independently if the tenure of its chairman and members is made dependent on the pleasure of the President.

Defenders of the CHR are also calling out false claims being circulated against the human rights body, including its alleged failure to investigate the Mendiola, Hacienda Luisita and the Kidapawan massacres.

One post noted that the Mendiola massacre happened before the CHR was created, while the human rights body has released resolutions on the Hacienda Luisita and Kidapawan massacres.

CHR commissioners have also stood behind Gascon amid calls for his resignation.

“He has a term and mandate to fulfill. What has he done to warrant him to resign?” said commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, sister of Duterte’s ally Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

Commissioner Roberto Cadiz also stressed on Thursday that the chairman and commissioners are independent and do not serve at the pleasure of the President.

Gascon earlier denied calls for him to resign, saying it would only worsen the bleak human rights situation of  the country if an appointee of the Duterte administration is sitting at the office tasked to monitor the human rights violations, especially those committed by state forces.

Fund drive

Meanwhile, a group of human rights lawyers said they are finalizing a mechanism to raise funds for the CHR should it receive a meager budget from the Duterte administration.

In a statement, Artikulo 3 said they might open a bank account where the public can deposit their donations to fund programs of the CHR.

“We are thankful for the numerous queries and pledges received by Artikulo 3 from groups and individuals interested in donating to CHR. One individual even pledged a personal donation of P100,000 for the agency,” said the group’s president Hilda Clave.

The lawyers’ group earlier criticized the House of Representatives for its decision to trim down the budget of the constitutional body.

Alavrez: critics of CHR budget cut are ‘gago’

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday said critics of the House’s decision to give CHR a mere P1,000 budget are “gago” or stupid.

Alvarez said he and his colleagues do not mind the flak they have been getting for their decision to effectively shut down CHR by giving it a P1,000 budget for 2018.

“They should remember that our constituents in our districts were the ones who elected us. And if we do not do our job, it is to them that we are accountable,” Alvarez claimed.

“We do not care about those criticisms, whether from social media or regular (mainstream) media. They do not represent the sentiments of our people,” he added.

Among critics of the CHR budget cut are senators, who Alvarez said should contribute their personal funds to the agency if they want to augment its funding.

Like Duterte, Alvarez often resorts to name-calling. He called three justices of the Court of Appeals names in radio interviews after accusing them of meddling with the House in the case of the detained Ilocos Six.

The Speaker claimed anew that CHR officials do not know their job.

He said the Constitution mandates the commission to investigate all human rights violations, whether committed by criminals, rebels, terrorists or state agents.

He claimed that CHR did not investigate the Mamasapano massacre that resulted in the death of 44 policemen and the terrorist activities of the Maute group in Marawi City.

‘Alvarez doesn’t understand CHR’s role’

But opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay said it is Alvarez who does not understand the job of the CHR.

Lagman said by international and domestic standards, a human rights violation “is an offense committed by the state or agents of the state.”

“There is a distinction between common crimes and violations of human rights. Not all killings, abductions and ambushes are considered human rights violations,” he said.

“Rebels, terrorists and outlaws are non-state actors. Crimes committed by non-state actors are subject to prosecution under the Revised Penal Code,” he added.

Lagman also said those who opposed the huge reduction in the CHR budget won the “nays” and “ayes” voting, but that the presiding officer, deputy speaker and Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, mistakenly declared that they were defeated.

He said many members of Alvarez’s supermajority voted with the opposition and “held their conviction in the anonymity of a voice vote.”

However, when Singson called for another vote by rising or standing, majority members who expressed “nay” against the CHR budget cut “dissipated because so many could not hold on to their conviction in the open against the dictates of the supermajority leadership.” 

The House voted 119-32 to sustain the motion of Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of party-list group Sagip for the CHR funding reduction. 

 

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