Palace condoles with kin of the late CHR chief Gascon who clashed with Duterte

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2021 05:52 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2021 08:32 PM

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Malacañang on Monday offered condolences to the family of the late Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chief Jose Luis "Chito" Gascon, who had clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte over his war on drugs. 

Gascon, 57, died after a bout with COVID-19, his brother said over the weekend.

"Nakikiramay rin po kami sa pagyao ni (we offer our sympathies for the passing of) Commission on Human Rights chairman Jose Luis Martin 'Chito' Gascon," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

"We offer our prayers as tributes pour in to honor the life and service of Chairman Gascon. May he rest in peace," he said in a press briefing. 

Gascon was appointed to the rights body in 2015 by then President Benigno Aquino III. At the change of administration, he fought rights abuses in the Philippines, including alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war. 

In a speech in 2017, Gascon said: "We have entered a period of darkness, the sun is gone, night has fallen." 

Gascon was a political activist and social reformer whose work for over three decades focused on human rights, democracy and governance.

A panel in the House of Representatives in 2017 voted to pass a P1,000 budget for the CHR, in what critics said was retaliation for commission's investigation of drug war killings.

In the same year, Duterte insulted Gascon for his human rights efforts and for being "a spokesman for the Liberal (Party) and for the opposition who want me out of the presidency." 

The CHR chief at that time said he hoped Duterte would withdraw his hurtful language "in order to have a common civic space." 

Despite these, however, Gascon's leadership flourished and "has inspired and nurtured a culture of enabling, empowering, and safe environment," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said. 

The International Criminal Court in September gave go signal for a full inquiry into the killings under Duterte's anti-narcotics war.