Duterte ‘contradictory’ on human rights — foreign group
MANILA — President Duterte’s inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) sent “confusing and sometimes contradictory messages” on his government’s stance on human rights, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Monday.
Phelim Kine, the group’s Asia deputy director, said the President rightly stated that “rule of law must at all times prevail” and that the government should respect “the human rights of our citizens.”
“However, President Duterte’s unwillingness to use his State of the Nation Address to demand a thorough investigation into the alarming surge in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users in recent weeks symbolizes a critical failure in his obligation to defend rule of law and to protect the rights and freedoms of all Filipinos,” he said.
The human rights advocate rebuked Duterte for “implicitly” voicing support for the rise in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users instead of speaking out against such brutality.
“President Duterte must publicly recognize that respect for rule of law and fulfilling the human rights of Filipinos extends to all Filipinos, including criminal suspects and those implicated in the drug trade,” Kine said.
But he added that it was encouraging that Duterte spoke out for the rights of women, reproductive health rights, the rights of the urban poor, and the country’s Muslims and Lumad indigenous people.
“We hope that his administration produces policy initiatives that will provide tangible support for that positive rhetoric,” he said.
“But as long as President Duterte turns a blind eye to – or implicitly or explicitly encourages –summary killings, the fundamental right to life of al Filipinos is at risk from potentially random extrajudicial violence,” Kine said.
Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is an international nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. SFM/rga
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