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Human rights being delegitimized by Duterte admin, says PolSci educator

Cleve Arguelles. photo by KATHLEEN MAE I. GUERRERO

THE INCUMBENT administration undermines the existence of human rights in the country to continue its war against illegal drugs, the chairperson of the political science program of the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila claimed in a forum held Nov. 8.

Cleve Arguelles said President Rodrigo Duterte exposes people to a “war against human rights,” apart from his administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

“He is trying to present human rights as an enemy of the people. We have been fed [by] this false notion na kapag sinacrifice natin ‘yung mga ibang tao ay uunlad ‘yung buhay natin,” Arguelles said.

“After delegitimizing human rights as an idea, we see na he’s now attacking the institutional basis of human rights. Halimbawa, the Supreme Court will call his attention or the commission on human rights will call his attention, he will say ‘[W]ala akong paki sa inyo,’” he added.

The war against illegal drugs has killed over 12,000 Filipinos since Duterte assumed his presidency on June 30, 2016, a recent Human Rights Watch report showed.

In a previous speech, the President has threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights and kill human rights activists condemning his administration.

Although there were also reported killings in the past administrations, the magnitude of deaths in today’s war against illegal drugs is alarming, Arguelles said.

Hindi natin sinasabing magbilang tayo. […] We should end this kahit sino man ‘yung president,” he said. “This is not about dilawan or ka-DDS (Duterte Die-hard Supporter) but the sanctity of human life.”

Marc Rivera, a social science expert from the UP Baguio, echoed Arguelles’ claims, adding that the government’s war against illegal drugs also became a “war against the poor.”

“We are frustrated with our politicians [when they] do not fulfill their promises but apparently, it is more frustrating when the president fulfills his promise, compromising our basic human rights, particularly the [current] president’s war on drugs,” Rivera said.

Apart from a forum at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes O.P. Building, a photo exhibit about the horrors of the drug war was arranged at the lobby of the St. Raymund’s de Penafort Building.

The event titled WHOStisya: Mananagot ang may sagot: An Advocacy Forum and Photo Exhibit on the Culture of Impunity in Duterte’s Presidency was organized by UST-SIMBAHAYAN, in partnership with the UST Sociological Society and the Arts and Letters Student Council. F JANYN MARIELLA MONTEALEGRE

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