MANILA—Sen. Francis Escudero on Thursday urged Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon to go all out in airing his concerns on human rights violations here in the Philippines first before venting them out to the international community.
Escudero made this call after the government of the Philippines on Monday (May 8) presented the state of human rights in the country and defended Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs before the United Nations (UN) during its Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland.
However, the CHR, one of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration’s drug war, was not part of the delegation as it is an dependent office from the Executive branch. Gascon and other members only attended to monitor the proceeding.
Escudero said that it seemed like the usually quiet Gascon spoke up more while abroad compared to when he was in his own country.
“Si Chairperson Gascon, hindi naman siya gaano nagsasalita dito tapos sa ibang bansa pa siya magsasalita at magrereklamo. Sana dito siya maging mas aktibista at hindi yung parang naglalaba o naghuhugas tayo ng maruming damit sa publiko — sa international community pa man din,” Escudero said in a Kapihan press conference.
(“Chairperson Gascon doesn’t usually speak up here but in another country, he speaks up and complains. He should be more of an activist here and not make it seem like he’s washing our dirty laundry in public — to the international community.”)
“Sana kung ano man ang problema ni Chairperson Gascon, dito niya mismo sabihin. At sana mas maingay siya dito kaysa sa ibang bansa (I hope that whatever Chairperson Gascon’s problem is, he airs them here. And I hope he would make more noise here than in another country),” he added.
Escudero pointed out that Gascon’s basis for claiming that there were state-sponsored killings in the country were the speeches of Pres. Duterte where he encouraged law enforcement officers to kill drug users and pushers who fought back
“Ang basehan naman talaga ni Chairperson Gascon ng CHR, kung bakit state-sponsored ito ay yung pananalita o salitang na binibitiwan ni Pangulong Duterte (The only basis of Chairperson Gascon of CHR why the killings are state-sponsored is the manner of speaking and the words used by Pres. Duterte),” Escudero said.
The senator said that killings during the previous administration under Pres. Benigno Aquino IV and the current administration has “practically the same” numbers.
“…Yung datos kung titingnan ninyo, yung dami at bilang ng mga pinapatay ay halos nandun pa rin lang sa bilang katulad sa mga nagdaang administrasyon (The number of people killed in this administration is practically the same from the previous administration),” he added.
The only difference was, Escudero stressed, what that Pres. Duterte was “tough-talking.”
“Ang pagkakaiba lang una na inanunsyo yung giyera sa droga at pangalawa yung pananalita ni Pres. Duterte na patayin to, patayin yan. Yun lamang ang pagkakaiba (The only difference is that the drug war was announced and the manner of speaking of Pres. Duterte when he says ‘kill this, kill that’),” Escudero said.
“But that by itself should not make it state-sponsored. A tough talking President does not automatically make him a human rights violator unless proof show that indeed he is involved directly in an such orders to kill extra judicially any suspect or an person,” he added.