People have right to criticize gov’t as Duterte picked on Diokno – lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyers’ group has slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for picking on human rights advocate, Atty. Chel Diokno, and by that insisted that people have all the freedom to also criticize the government and its policies.
The Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL) reminded the public on Tuesday that civil rights like freedom of expression remain even if the country is under a national emergency.
Duterte badgered Diokno – and his bucktooth – in one of his recent speeches, even admitting that he’s mad at the human rights lawyer for criticizing his administration’s measures to deal with the novel coronavirus disease epidemic.
Diokno is a member of CLCL.
“The freedom of expression and other constitutional rights are not suspended during a state of emergency. People have the right to protest if they do not receive the promised aid to them,” CLCL said in a statement. “In the same vein, they also have the right to criticize government for its failure to respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis.”
“After all, the failure of the government to respond will most heavily impact its citizens, especially the poor. It is, therefore, the right of anyone to ensure that the government delivers on its promised aid and provides efficient and effective actions to stem the increase of COVID-19 cases,” the group added.
According to CLCL, the government should instead base its solutions on the grievances of people to ensure that demands are addressed rather than try to silence the critical opinion of its people.
“In fact, the government must view these criticisms as feedback mechanisms so that it can effectively perform its job of responding to the threat of COVID-19,” CLCL pointed out.
“It was only after the people of San Roque complained that relief and food have not reached their community, that relief goods were delivered to them by the local government,” it also noted, referring to Barangay San Roque residents who went out and demanded food aid from the Quezon City government.
In a later statement, Diokno said he does not mind if Duterte would pick on his bucktooth as long as the people’s needs would be addressed.
Diokno likewise revealed that one of his clients was given a subpoena for supposedly spreading “fake news” although he claimed that his client was merely expressing his opinion about the government’s policies and was seeking accountability.
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