President Duterte has questioned whether the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) Jose Gascon is a paedophile, due to his concern over the killing of teenage boys.
The president also accused Mr Gascon of politicising the agency instead of engaging in important issues besetting the country.
“Every day, even in Marawi, there are hostages there by the terrorists, and they are raping the women every day, yet we don’t hear the Human Rights (Commission) say, ‘Stop now’,” he said in a speech today (Saturday, September 16).
However, as the CHR has frequently attempted to remind the president and his supporters, its constitutional mandate is to investigate human rights violations perpetrated by “state actors”. It is the role of the police to investigate and arrest criminals.
The president made his remarks about the CHR during his meeting with police officer George Rupinta, who was released by the New People’s Army being held for three months as a prisoner of war.
In his speech today, the president also mocked Gascon for supposedly focusing on the deaths of teenagers killed by anti-drug police officers.
“Why are you fond of teenagers? Now I wonder: are you gay, or a paedophile?” he asked.
The president was referring to CHR’s investigations into the killing of Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz, both teenage boys who were gunned down by Caloocan policemen just two days apart.
“You are so fixated with the death of a young male, that’s why I doubt: pedophile kang gago ka (you’re a pedophile, you fool),” said the president.
Gascon: ‘It’s unfortunate’
Mr Gascon described Duterte’s words as “unfortunate”.
“That the president again has resorted to name-calling and to using hurtful language against me is unfortunate,” he wrote in a text message to ABS-CBN. “I hope he might choose to withdraw them in order to have a common civic space.
“If there may be differences between the positions we take in CHR and that taken by the Executive Branch, we hope this be viewed as part of the checks & balance system of Philippine Democracy,” he added.
The CHR chief also denied that he was affiliated with Duterte’s political opponents.
“I have not been involved in any partisan activity since being tasked to perform human rights programmes first with the human rights victims claims board in 2014 and assuming my leadership of the CHR,” he said.
“I have taken an oath of office that mandates me to focus only on our human rights work without fear or favor. I have not nor will not participate in any destabilisation of the state or any other action that would undermine our democratic system.”
The CHR is currently threatened by a huge budget cut. As we reported this week, the House of Representatives voted for a derisory 1,000 peso budget for the agency.
The decision has yet to be ratified by the senate.