CHR: Law must be applied equally and without favor
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called on the government to ensure laws are applied equally and “without favor” amid a series of arrests of individuals who posted criticisms and threats against President Rodrigo Duterte’s life on social media.
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, people should be ensured that their right to free speech — even during a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic — will be protected.
“We hope that our law enforcement’s recent vigilance against threats against life translates to other aspects of governance, as there are also other reports of human rights violations and abuses that need to be addressed,” De Guia said in a statement Thursday.
At least two individuals were arrested in the past few days over their social media posts against Duterte. First was the arrest of a high school teacher on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after he offered a P50 million-reward to anyone who could kill Duterte.
Another was also arrested for saying he would double the high school teacher’s bounty for Duterte’s death.
Then a salesman from Agusan del Norte was likewise arrested for saying that Senator Bong Go, Duterte’s long time aide, is playing hero while calling the President “crazy”.
During the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19, several alleged violations of human rights — including the killing of a retired soldier suffering from mental illness — have been reported. These incidents caused social media to go on a frenzy, criticizing the government’s disregard for basic rights.
CHR nevertheless reminded the public that free speech is not absolute.
“At the same time, we also remind citizens, even public officials, that free speech must be done within the bounds of law and must remain respectful towards the rights of others. Simply, every right entails this obligation,” De Guia noted.
“As we call for the respect for the rule of law, we too hope that the law is applied equally and without favor, and all those who will be charged with cases will be granted due process through a fair and speedy trial. And should there be bias, let it only be for justice, fairness, and the protection of the rights of all people,” she added.
Previously, ACT party-list Rep. France Castro slammed the supposed double standards of law enforcement agents in the arrest of the high school teacher, pointing out that Duterte has never been made accountable for cursing people, for blatantly talking about killings, and disrespecting women.
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