MANILA, Philippines— Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon died of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to his brother Miguel via Facebook Saturday, October 9. He was 57.
Politicians and officials in the government and the military mourn Gascon’s passing, remembering his relentless fight in upholding people’s rights.
Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a statement, extended his and the department’s sympathies to Gascon’s family.
“We at the Department of National Defense extend our sincerest condolences to the family of CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon,” Lorenzana said.
“The DND recognizes the great work done by the CHR under Chairman Gascon in the implementation of human rights laws. He will be missed,” the secretary added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, through its spokesperson, Col. Ramon Zagala, has also extended its sincerest condolences to Gascon’s family, friends, and colleagues.
Zagala remembered the late human rights champion’s “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.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who said she has been devastated by the news of Gascon’s death, laments that the country has “lost a human rights champion”.
“Chito understood the valuable link between human dignity and democracy. His activism stretched more than 30 years and I have personally witnessed him fight the good fight: defending human rights, fighting for democracy, and working for government reforms that promote accountability and the rule of law,” Hontiveros said.
Karapatan group also offered its condolences to Gascon’s family, recalling how the human rights advocate stood by them in their call for justice.
The group vowed to honor Gascon’s memory “by continuing to defend and uphold people’s rights and the struggle for just and lasting peace in the Philippines.” —/mbmf