DND, AFP mourn passing of human rights 'champion' Gascon

Published October 9, 2021, 11:08 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) grieved the passing of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon on Saturday morning, Oct. 9, due to complications from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was 57.

Jose Luis Martin ‘Chito’ Gascon

“The DND recognizes the great work done by the CHR under Chairman Gascon in the implementation of human rights laws. He will be missed. May the good Lord give his family the strength and fortitude during these trying times,” said DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement.

Meanwhile, AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala extended the military’s condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Gascon.

“His tireless work as a human rights champion and the watchful eyes of the CHR further pushed the AFP to advocate and abide by the principles of human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We pray for strength for his loved ones in these difficult times,” Zagala said.

Gascon’s death due to COVID-19 was confirmed by his brother, Miguel, and CHR spokesperson, lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia.

He was appointed by the late former Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as chairman of CHR in 2015. He championed human rights and fought against alleged abuses when President Duterte launched the bloody campaign against illegal drugs in 2016.

Under Gascon’s leadership, the CHR strengthened its partnership with the AFP to ensure human rights and IHL are observed in the campaign to end the local communist armed conflict, and human rights abuses by non-state armed groups including the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) are monitored and acted upon.

Their partnership resulted in the transmission to the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commisioner on Human Rights the list of 532 incidents of dectruction to civilian properties that were allegedly committed by the CPP-NPA from 2010 to 2020.