Duterte is wrong: Human rights defenders are beautiful !

November 2, 2016

The Philippines seems to get most of its attention nowadays because of the ranting of its President rather than the human rights situation on the ground. That is why wrote a reply in the  of 1 November 2016 under the title “Human rights defenders are beautiful“.

The intruiging title is linked to a recent episode in which President Duterte complimented the Filipino beauty queen, Kylie Verzosa, on her international recognition by saying “You see, Filipinas are beautiful”,  and then added gratuitously “Pero kayong lahat diyan sa human rights commission, mga pangit (But all of you there at the Commission on Human Rights, you are all ugly)”. It would be a mistake to think that this was just another jest. Since the CHR, under then chair Leila de Lima, investigated him in 2009 for possible human rights violations in relation to the killings attributed to the so-called Davao Death Squad, he has harbored a sense of resentment against the constitutional agency which has dared question the rising casualty toll in his so-called war on drugs..
The writer then says: But we should all ask: What have human rights advocates done to deserve such hostility, such cavalier treatment, from the President? Human rights advocates, including those identified with the National Democratic Front, including those who have served and are serving in the CHR, were among those who tried to hold the Marcos regime accountable during the dictatorship itself, and are among those leading the fight to bring the Marcos family to justice. Mr. Duterte’s own mother, who was a leader of the anti-Marcos movement in Davao City, would have recognized them as kindred spirits……….A devout and disciplined Catholic, she would have understood the sacrifice these advocates made, in choosing the less lucrative, much more dangerous career of human rights work. I daresay she would have recognized in them the dignity, the beauty, of the saints: They are doing not only the right, but the beautiful, thing.

Immediately after Duterte’s election (13 May 2016) the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) called on him to end rights violations and give justice to victims. “Duterte captured the support of the Filipino electorate clamoring for change –- a clear repudiation of the Aquino government’s failure to bring about real development for the impoverished people…We have seen this overwhelming support take shape in the lively campaigns organized by different migrant groups in our respective countries, in spite of the criticisms against him for his alleged responsibility for the Davao “death squads” and summary executions of alleged criminals” Rev’d Canon Barry Naylor, Chairperson of the Global Council of the coalition noted. Then the ICHRP immediately called to:

1. STOP all extra-judicial killings, including the killing of Lumad people, attacks on communities and indigenous schools, among other human rights violations;

2. STOP vilification and harassment of human rights defenders

3. Release all political prisoners; and

4. Resume formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

He should sincerely address the roots of the armed conflict and disallow another National Internal Security Plan, such as the failed Oplan Bayanihan, in bringing about genuine change in the land. Without justice there can be no peace”, Canon Naylor added in response to Duterte’s call for national reconciliation and healing.

2 Responses to “Duterte is wrong: Human rights defenders are beautiful !”


  1. […] Even if it would turn out that some biased or incompetent committee did bestow a minor award, it does not change the fact that Duterte has  issues with human rights defenders for the way he is conducting his war on drugs. In fact, recently, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs demanded that Duterte should renounce his earlier statement that seemed to threaten the lawyers of alleged drug dealers. “Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings,” HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/02/duterte-is-wrong-human-rights-defenders-are-beautiful/ […]


  2. […] In reality it was ignoring important issues raised and rejected key recommendations made by other States. The Philippine delegation on Friday at the session in Geneva accepted only 103 out of 257 recommendations made by member-states. On Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs claimed the country “scored a big victory in Geneva” when the UN body “overwhelmingly adopted Manila’s human rights report card.” (Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed the “adoption” of Manila’s report means that the country “has nothing to hide with its human rights record.“)  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/02/duterte-is-wrong-human-rights-defenders-are-beautiful/] […]


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