CHR chief to Duterte: Follow the Constitution, not me

Rachel Hermosura, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2016 11:04 PM

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon on Tuesday said President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should follow the Constitution, and not him.

This is Gascon's reaction to Duterte's statement that he will not follow the CHR chief.

Duterte mentioned Gascon during his address before businessmen in Davao on Tuesday: "Huwag na ninyong pakialamanan kung ilan ang patay diyan. Tsaka sabihin mo na: kung kilala ninyo si Gascon, baka kumpare ninyo, hindi ako susunod sa kanya. I will not. And let me be very blunt, if they kill upon my orders, akin yan. That's mine."

Gascon, however, said the issue shouldn't be about the president-elect and the CHR.

"Kung ang punto is sabihin sa kanya hindi siya susunod sa akin, actually he doesn't have to follow me," Gascon told ANC's Beyond Politics. "Sino ba naman tayo? Ang panawagan ko siguro is he just follow the Constitution and the law. And we'll be fine."

Gascon said he personally did not hear Duterte's remarks late Tuesday.

Duterte has been critical of the CHR and Gascon, and has even called Gascon an "idiot" over the CHR ruling that Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women over his remarks on the raping and killing of an Australian missionary.

Still, Gascon remains adamant about his role as CHR chair.

"Our duty as the Commission on Human Rights is to monitor and provide oversight on matters involving human rights and to speak truth to power," Gascon said. "Essentially I have described it previously as a role of a referee. There are rules of the game and ultimately we need to abide by those rules and if you cross the line, we need to call you out."

Gascon also remained hopeful over his relations with the incoming President.

"I hope this relationship might blossom into an engagement about rules, that we can work together on many issues, respect each other, and try to improve governance all around," Gascon said.

"So, message sent, received, and my reply is just follow the constitution and the laws of the land and we'll be okay. Period."

Gascon also said the CHR has set up a national task force on extrajudicial killings in anticipation of a possible rise in the number of such cases.

The task force was set up last week.