Rights groups on Duterte’s EJK joke: Nobody’s laughing but you
Human rights advocates on Saturday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for making what they described as a “sick joke” about the victims of his administration’s brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
“Stop making a joke out of people’s lives, misery and rights, Mr. President. Nobody’s laughing except you,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the rights group Karapatan.
Etta Rosales, former chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and convenor of the group Peras (Participatory Education on Rights Awareness and Social Action), also called out Mr. Duterte for “mocking traditional institutions and values that are meaningful to the people, such as religion and the dignity and rights of human beings.”
‘Human rights in heaven’
The two groups were reacting to the President’s remarks made during the inauguration of Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, on Friday.
In what appears to be a mocking comment against his critics, the President said that God had promised him that all victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) would go to heaven.
“Enjoy your human rights in heaven,” Mr. Duterte said, adding: “God promised me all extrajudicial killing victims will go to heaven, I asked that of God, and he said, ‘all right, it can be done.’”
But the President stopped short of admitting that he was responsible for the drug-related deaths.
“Gawin ko ba iyan kung walang guarantee? Kawawa naman (Will I do that without guarantee? What a pity). But if it’s any consolation, they (EJK victims) will go to heaven,” Mr. Duterte said. “I said: God, just allow them, I am not asking for anything,” he added.
“Reserve the hottest place in hell for me and may I burn until eternity,” said the President, adding, “That is, if there is hell.”
In a reprise of his earlier remarks that the Catholic bishops had described as blasphemous, Mr. Duterte said, “Why would God create an oven for his creation? I said I have a God but it is not your stupid God,” he said.
In a statement, Karapatan said the President should stop his “mockery and distortion of human rights and people’s rights,” in his “sick attempt” to justify extrajudicial killings and other rights violations in the country.
“If [Mr.] Duterte mocks [the different forms of freedoms] and makes fun of Filipinos who uphold these principles, to what end does he then hope to bring his Charter change and federalism? How can Filipinos believe in his leadership when he mocks and scoffs at the very principles and values that we all hold close to our hearts?” Rosales asked.
“Irrespective of heaven and hell, no person deserves to die without due process of law. Human rights-based policing strengthens rather than renders inutile law enforcement,” said lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson.
The Philippine National Police counts more than 4,000 deaths as being those of drug users and drug pushers, but maintains that the government does not have a policy ordering them “to kill drug suspects” in their operations.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, is currently investigating Mr. Duterte for drug-related killings based on the complaints of his former police aide and self-described assassin, Edgar Matobato, who told the court that the President had ordered the deaths of criminals and political foes when he was mayor of Davao City in Mindanao.