Int’l human rights group says Duterte’s SONA sends mixed messages

By Coconuts Manila –

26 July 2016

International advocacy group Human Rights Watch thinks President Rodrigo
Duterte sent mixed messages in his State of the Nation Address
yesterday, Jul 25.

In a statement, Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director for Human Rights
Watch, said that Duterte’s 100-minute speech “was laced with confusing
and sometimes contradictory messages.”

Why was it confusing? Kline said that the government’s unwillingness to
investigate into the surge of extrajudicial killings of suspected
criminals and drug offenders symbolizes “a critical failure” to “defend
rule of law and to protect the rights and freedoms of all Filipinos.”

In his SONA, President Duterte pledged to uplift human rights. He said
that his administration shall be sensitive to the “State’s obligations
to promote, rotect, and fulfill the human rights of our citizens…even
as the rule of law shall at all times prevail.”

However, the President also made it clear that his administration’s
fight against drugs, criminality and corruption will be “relentless and

President Duterte told persons of authority: “Double your efforts.
Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the
last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars
or below the ground, if they so wish.”

Kline said that “Duterte implicitly voiced support for such unlawful
brutality by stating that police can rightly put illegal drug suspects
‘below the ground’ if necessary.”

“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,”
Kline added.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “kill list”, 365 suspected
drug users and criminals were put “below the ground” between Jun 30 and
Jul 25.

Human Rights Watch is hoping that Duterte’s administration will also
produce “policy initiatives that will provide tangible support for that
positive rhetoric.”

“But as long as President Duterte turns a blind eye to — or implicitly
or explicitly encourages — summary killings, the fundamental right to
life of all Filipinos is at risk from potentially random extrajudicial
violence,” the statement said.

The administration’s anti-crime and anti-illegal drug operations are
often criticised by human rights advocates.

Duterte said that the issue should not be used to destroy the Philippines.

“Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot
be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country,” the President
said in his SONA. With reports from ABS-CBN News


Duterte defends Gina Lopez: ‘She’s just doing her job’

By: Maila Ager

25 July 2016

President Rodrigo Duterte used his first State of the Nation Address
(Sona) on Monday to defend the newly installed Environment Secretary
Regina “Gina” Lopez against criticisms, saying she was a “crusader”

President Rodrigo Duterte used his first State of the Nation Address
(Sona) on Monday to defend newly installed Environment Secretary Regina
“Gina” Lopez against criticisms, saying she was a “crusader” doing her job.

“Many are complaining against the appointment of Gina Lopez. But si
Gina, pati ako we share the same, paradigm—the interest of the country
should come first,” Duterte said.

“Gina Lopez and I are telling you kung ano ang governments standards
(what the governments standards are), don’t destroy the environment…wala
tayong problema (we won’t have any problem)…Just pay the correct taxes.”

“Gina Lopez is just doing her job. You know, she’s really a crusader,”
he said.

Duterte then recalled how Lopez got the job after the latter paid him a
visit several times in his home province in Davao.

“Ano kaya kung ikaw na lang DENR (Department of Environment and Natural
Resources) [secretary] ko?” he recalled telling Lopez. “Bigla syang
sagot, totoo ka?”

After consulting her family, Lopez then accepted the job, the President
said. RAM/rga