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APF mourns the loss of a human rights champion

Graphic: Jose Luis 'Chito' Gascon, CHR Chairperson, speaks at a solidarity function

The APF mourns the loss of Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon or 'Chito', a tireless champion for human rights in the Philippines.

The Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the Hon. Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon, or ‘Chito’ as he preferred to be called, has died today due to Covid.  But Chito’s spirit lives on in his own words and in his achievements because of his tireless work for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  The Philippines has lost a human rights champion.

His commitment to human rights was legendary and all of us who worked with Chito were inspired by his intellect, compassion and humility. Chito empowered those who he worked with. He believed that no matter who you were or where you lived, we all want the same thing – to be treated fairly and with respect, and to live a life free from violence and discrimination.

The revolution you aspire for is out there in the horizon. It’s something you never give up on.

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines Logo Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon - 'Chito'

As Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines he exemplified how a leader of a national human rights institution should act. National human rights institutions stand up for those in need of protection and hold their governments to account. They drive genuine change by seeking to: improve the practices of law enforcement officials, removing discrimination in laws and policies, and providing a voice for the most vulnerable members of our societies. These changes – both big and small – make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and strengthen the fabric of our communities.  

By steadfastly upholding the constitutional mandate of the Commission on Human Rights and operating with absolute autonomy and independence from government, Chito provided us with a role model of how all national human rights institutions should act.

All of us at the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions mourn the loss of a human rights champion and a friend. But our loss can rate little against the sorrow of his family. We offer our deepest condolences.

Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, APF Chairperson. 

Date: 9 October 2021


Image credits

  1. Jose Luis 'Chito' Gascon, CHR Chairperson, speaks at a solidarity function - CHR