Philippines president attacks human rights watchdog: ‘Are you gay or a paedophile?’

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The President of the Philippines has launched a scathing attack against the head of a human rights watchdog in the country, asking him if he was “gay or a paedophile”.

President Rodrigo Duterte attacked chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Chito Gascon, in a press conference yesterday.

CHR's Chito Gascon

CHR’s Chito Gascon (R)
(Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Gascon has been an outspoken critic of the president and the administration for its anti-drug campaign which has caused controversy over the brute force used by authorities.

The crackdown on drugs has seen thousands of Filipinos killed in the past 15 months.

Gascon has called on authorities to stop killing criminals and rather go ahead with proper court cases.

Related: Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte claims criminals are ‘beyond help’ because prison makes them gay

Speaking at the press conference, President Duterte accused Gascon of being “suffocated” with the campaign.

He reportedly said at the conference: “Why is this guy so suffocated with the issue of young people, especially boys? Are you a paedophile?

“Why are you smitten with teenagers? Are you? I’m having my doubts. Are you gay or a paedophile?”

The comments came as the annual budget of the CHR was slashed to just 1,000 pesos which is the equivalent of $20.

This huge slash needs to be approved by the Senate but it’s likely it will be passed because of Duterte’s majority government.

The previous year, they were granted 749m pesos ($15m; £11m).

The CHR had requested 1.72bn pesos ($34m; £25m) for 2018.

It is believed that the organisation has appealed for a larger budget.

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Duterte called on the CHR head to “move onto other issues that are besetting this country”.

Jacqueline de Guia, a spokesperson for the CHR said that the comments by the president only served to degrade the CHR’s mission and drew attention away for human rights issues in the country.

“These are remarks that do not show respect for the dignity of others.

“The public must understand that the death of children concerns us all as they are especially vulnerable and need state protection,” De Guia told Reuters.