Karapatan: Duterte’s statement on human rights during 3rd SONA reveals his ignorance

Karapatan chided Duterte in his speech referring to human rights issues during his 3rd State of the Nation as “mere rhetoric, meant to appease public outrage over rights violations.” 

“Duterte’s take on human rights vis-à-vis human lives just emphasized how oblivious he is on the subject. This is expected from someone infamous for rights violations and for enabling more butchers in the police and military. It baffles us how someone who backed and directed the killing of thousands of Filipinos can muster the audacity to claim that he’s fighting for human lives. He’s utterly shameless,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. 

“Duterte and his writers are scrambling for sound bites that do not even make sense. Caring about human lives while disregarding human rights? A very quick consult with Google would school Duterte and his government that these two are mutually exclusive; that the very essence of what human rights are for is to aid individuals attain a life with dignity, anchored on their being productive members of society,” added Palabay.

In his 48-minute speech, Duterte reiterated his commitment in pursuing the drug war, adding that it will be “relentless” and “chilling”. The President also said that the war on illegal drugs will not be silenced because it “waste[s] lives, dysfunctionalize[s] families and ruins relationships.”

“While illegal drugs is indeed a scourge, killing and gross violations of right to due process are certainly no solutions. It has been two years since the start of this militarist approach in curbing the drug war. Where are we now? Far from any real progress, the Duterte regime has instead succeeded in wasting lives, causing dysfunctional families, and ruining relationships. This “war” has created more problems than it has solved. The big drug syndicates are out there, continuing with business as usual while this government is stubbornly pushing with this ineffective campaign – all while the poor are being arbitrarily killed and targeted. This inhuman campaign has made stark the double standard in this country,” Palabay said.

The Karapatan leader urged Duterte to admit the failure of this brutal and misdirected campaign. She insisted that “the government should stop with the excuse of “nanlaban”, or of victims resisting arrest when there are solid evidences showing otherwise. This narrative has already been proven to be a sorry excuse to justify killings. Maybe it is time to factor in the lives and rights which were utterly neglected by this ruthless government.”

Karapatan said that aside from the impacts of Duterte’s drug war, numerous issues were not addressed in Duterte’s SONA such as the peacetalks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines; rights violations in relation to martial law Mindanao; the continuing spate of illegal arrests and growing number of political prisoners; and the vicious attacks against human rights defenders. 

“Rights advocates expect far worse attacks on people’s rights by this administration. With impunity queen Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hailed as the impunity king Duterte’s House Speaker, and with Charter Change and proposed legislation that will further infringe on human rights, we are certainly inching closer to a fullblown dictatorship,” Palabay stated. 

“Duterte is indeed decisive, but in peddling anti-people policies and protecting the killers and human rights violators unleashed by this murderous regime. A toned down Duterte who skipped the curses in his SONA will not deceive us. Just as he confidently declares that the drug war will be “relentless”, we assure him that our protests and struggle to call for justice and accountability will likewise be relentless,” Palabay concluded.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580