Groups reject Palace explanation of Duterte threat vs HR activists
A network of human rights groups on Thursday rejected Malacañang’s explanation that President Duterte’s threat to kill human rights activists critical of his war on drugs was an “expression of frustration.”
Ellecer Carlos, spokesperson for In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity (iDefend), said Mr. Duterte’s “Freudian slip” had betrayed his intention to eliminate opposition to his plans.
“This reveals his mindset and what he really wants to do,” Carlos said in a news briefing.
He said the clarifications of the President’s “double speak” by his spokespersons have become “very tiring.”
iDefend also warned against the President’s “creeping authoritarianism” under the shadow of the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Carlos also was aghast at Mr. Duterte’s use of the word “harvest” to refer to mass killings that the President had indicated he would carry out.
On Monday, Mr. Duterte said in a speech, “The human rights [defenders] said I ordered the killings. I told them ‘OK. Let’s stop. We’ll let [drug users] multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die.” He said he would also include human rights activists, who should be blamed for the rising number of drug users.
“Imagine,” Carlos said, “harvesting human beings. We are being likened to plants!”
“If he wants his frustrations to stop, then he should put a stop to the killings,” Carlos said. “Sooner or later, it will be easier to include human rights defenders in mere statistics.”
iDefend also said the threats from Mr. Duterte had gone beyond words with the killing of nine labor leaders in the first five months of his administration.
Judy Pasimio of Lilak, a group that defends indigenous women’s rights and part of the iDefend network, said the definition of human rights must be “reclaimed” as the administration tries to change its meaning.
She said the Duterte government regards human rights “simply as an obstacle to [the President’s] programs and as mere propaganda against him.”
iDefend also criticized the “death bills” allegedly being railroaded by the President’s allies in the House of Representatives, referring to proposals to restore the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal responsibility.
It said the death penalty would merely legitimize violence and the extrajudicial killings. About 5,000 have been killed in the bloody campaign against illegal drugs since July.
iDefend said it would hold a Global Day of Action in Defense of Right to Life on Dec. 10 to mark International Human Rights Day.
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