Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon was a political activist and social reformer who worked on human rights, democracy, and governance concerns in the Philippines for over three decades. In 2015, he was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III to a seven-year term as Chair of the country’s Human Rights Commission.
Chito also served as member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, the body mandated by law to administer a program of recognition and reparations to victims of the martial law regime. In this office he held a rank equivalent to Justice of the Court of Appeals.
A student leader who fought the Marcos dictatorship and organized protests following the assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino in 1983, Chito headed the youth movement that actively participated in the non-violent People Power Revolution of February 1986. In the transition to democracy he served as the youngest member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution.
The recipient of numerous international fellowships, Chito held several senior government positions, including Undersecretary at both the Department of Education and the Office of the President.
He passed away in 2021.