In this Dec. 6, 2018 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the 85th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Presidential Photo/Richard Madelo
Palace claims Duterte's drug war protects lives on Human Rights Day
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - December 10, 2018 - 11:15am

MANILA, Philippines — The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte said it would remain steadfast in its campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs, crime and corruption as the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, chair of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, claimed the government’s program against drugs and crime protects human rights of “innocent law-abiding” Filipinos despite allegations of abuses and violations.

“To protect the lives of the innocent law-abiding citizens of the country, this administration remains unrelenting in its crusade against criminality, corruption, terrorism, insurgency and the proliferation of illegal drugs that destroy families and the future of the young,” Medialdea said in a statement Monday.

He added: “In all these, the rule of law is upheld as the guilty are brought before the bar of justice.”

Various rights watchdogs had stressed that the Philippines under Duterte is in its worst human rights landscape since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos as thousands—mostly urban poor dwellers—have been killed in the violent campaign against illegal drugs in so short a period.

The casualty count is more than 12,000, according to rights watchdogs. But the Philippine National Police has lower figures, saying more than 4,900 “drug personalities” have been killed in anti-narcotics operations.

In Duterte’s more than two years in office, attacks against rights defenders, critics of the government and the Catholic Church have also intensified.

Last week, the International Criminal Court said it continues to assess communications into Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity in the context of the drug war despite the Philippine government’s withdrawal of its ratification from the Rome Statute—the treaty that established the Hague-based tribunal.

‘Duterte a threat to human rights’

Opposition lawmaker Risa Hontiveros claimed that Duterte is the “single biggest threat to human rights in the Philippines.”

“The president has singlehandedly rolled back human rights safeguards and made the country a haven for human rights violators. By unleashing a bloody and abusive war on drugs, he has set into motion the killing of thousands, most of whom are poor people,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She also stressed that the rule of law is “grossly distorted” and women’s rights are “constantly [under] attack” under the Duterte administration.

“We cannot continue treading this path. I call on the people to push back and stand up against the threat to our human rights,” Hontiveros said.

She added: “Human rights are not suggestions or ornaments. They are fundamental anchors to a society of fairness for the many and not tools to be used by the privileged few.”

‘Philippine leaders have forgotten about UDHR’

Sen. Leila De Lima, another critic of the administration, noted that there is a growing absence of human rights leadership today.

“Some governments themselves, led mostly by populist demagogues and autocrats, have actually attacked their own people. And, far too many politicians and so-called leaders—including those in my country, the Philippines—seem to have forgotten the UDHR,” De Lima said.

The Philippines became one of the first signatories to the UDHR, a landmark human rights document. It is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that the document has gone from being an “aspirational treatise” to a set of standards that has “permeated virtually every area of international law.”

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with