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Panelo: Duterte can't abolish CHR, but 'biased' Gascon should resign

An official of Malacañang on Thursday called on the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights to step down for being "subjective."

Chief presidential legal counsel Sec. Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang that while President Rodrigo Duterte could not replace CHR chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon since his post had a fixed term, the official should resign anyway.

“I think this Chito Gascon is not functioning as an objective [chairman of the Commission on Human Rights]. He should have the decency to resign. Step aside and let another person who is not vengeful or who is not vindictive, or who is not subjective,” he said.

“You have to be objective there eh. Kaya nga Human Rights Commission, it involves the violations of the rights of a human being, not just people you want to defend – criminals,” he added.

Panelo claimed that the CHR kept on pinning down Duterte without filing a formal case against him.

“How can they be accusing the President of violation of human rights? They have not charged him whether when he was mayor or even when he’s President. Pwede naman siyang idemanda eh, ipi-pending lang,” he said.

Former President Benigno Aquino III appointed Gascon to head the CHR in 2015. His term will end in 2022.

Abolish CHR?

Panelo added that when Duterte threatened to abolish the CHR in a press conference on Monday after his second State of the Nation Address, it was just a forceful way of telling the commission to get its act together.

“Ang ibig lang niyang sabihin, gawin ninyo ang trabaho ninyo, huwag kayong biased. Otherwise, you have no business being there and that commission is not functioning as it should be,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella in an earlier briefing said Duterte was just expressing his frustrations with the CHR.

“It’s basically, the President is simply expressing his frustration regarding his—regarding the apparent biases of the Commission,” he said.

But since CHR is a Constitutional commission, it can’t be abolished, both Panelo and Abella pointed out. 

“You have to change the Constitution, amend it,” Panelo said. —JST, GMA News