DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s inclusion in TIME Magazine’s Asia Edition as one of the world’s “strongman” leaders was criticized by human rights groups here and in the international community.
Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions and also Director of Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University questioned TIME magazine’s cover dated May 14.
“There is nothing “strong” about men abusing their power, silencing dissent. Absolutely nothing. In the era of #MeToo movement and redefinition of gender, Time has really NO excuses for this appalling cover.” said Callamard in her Twitter account Saturday.
Callamard has pursued the investigation of drug-related killings and other cases of extra-judicial killings (EJK) in the country, which made her earn the ire of Duterte’s fiery and foul rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the human rights group Karapatan said Duterte’s depiction as “strongman” is a “façade of cowardice”.
“Strongmen” like Rodrigo Duterte exercise power through State terror and violence with impunity, couched in populist language that misleads the public and trains the guns of his armed forces and police on his perceived enemies – the people,” Karapatan’s statement said.
“His ‘strength’ comes from dehumanizing the urban poor and workers by calling them ‘drug addicts’ and ‘lazy criminals,’ by tagging activists and political dissenters as ‘terrorists,’ and by branding any and all criticism to his anti-people policies as forms of ‘destabilization’,” the statement added.
The President commented on this issue last Friday saying that he is not a strongman.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr said Duterte’s inclusion shows the president is appreciated by Filipinos for his “strong and decisive leadership.”
“Filipinos have learned not to take PRRD literally with his colorful language but they have surely taken seriously the issues the President has espoused, such as the war on drugs and crime,” Roque said.
But Karapatan chided these points saying Duterte has earned the ire of the people with rising problems like inflation and human rights violations.
“Like all other previous and current despots and tyrants, his so-called strength is an expression of his greed for power. What he truly fears is the people’s exercise of our sovereign will to exact justice and accountability,” Karapatan said.(davaotoday.com)