Philippine Catholic bishops offered their condolences following the death of Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon, head of the country’s Commission on Human Rights. He was 57.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, vice president of the bishops’ conference, expressed his sadness over the passing of Gascon due to COVID-19 on Saturday, October 9.
“Condolences to the Philippines for the loss of Human Rights Commissioner Chito Gascon,” said Bishop David on his Facebook account.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, national director of Caritas Philippines, paid tribute to Gascon’s courage “at a time when suppression, intimidation, and violence are expressly encouraged by those in power.”
“He is our symbol of hope that justice can prevail if only, like him, we stand by the truth and defend the weak – at all cost,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
“With his untimely death, we are reminded that time is of the essence. Justice especially for the poor and the marginalized cannot wait,” he added.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said that with Gascon’s “untimely death,” the country is reminded that “time is of the essence.”
“Justice especially for the poor and the marginalized cannot wait,” said Bishop Alminaza, who also heads the Church-Workers Solidarity and the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group.
Gascon was appointed chairman of the rights body in 2015 by the late President Benigno Aquino III.
After Aquino’s term ended in 2016, he continued to serve his post and fought rights abuses, including alleged extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “drug war.”