KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines – A human rights group hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that human rights groups are enemies of the state, saying such view is held only by a tyrant leader.
“Only tyrants and human rights violators consider human rights defenders as enemies, to justify their killing and other worse violations against them,” Tina Palabay, speaking for Karapatan, said in response to Duterte’s claim.
“It is actually those in government who order, encourage and perpetuate extrajudicial killings, illegal or arbitrary arrests, rape, torture, and other grave violations, as well as those who engender impunity and poverty and promote the sell-out of our country’s patrimony, who is considered by the people as their enemies,” she added.
The militant human group argued anew that Duterte’s sham drug war and its consequences cannot be justified by the government’s inability to resolve criminality and its distorted and unscientific analysis on the roots of the problem of the illegal drug trade.
“As long as the government sees that the solution to social woes is through its kill, kill, kill approach, as long it does not nip corruption in government in the bud by being complicit in the entry and proliferation of illegal drugs in the streets, as long as it doesn’t solve the root causes of poverty, it will always face criticism and opposition from the people,” Palabay said.
“Human rights defense is not the sole purview of human rights groups. Every day, every hour, several communities and individuals uphold and defend their individual and collective rights. The people are defending our rights. As long as Duterte continues to disregard these rights, he will be made accountable by the people,” she added.
For Barug Katungod Mindanao, Duterte’s statement only confirmed that government forces, until now, maintain a list whom they suspect as “enemies of the state.”
“Coming from the Commander-in-Chief, His pronouncement is the verbal confirmation of the military and police’s practice of maintaining “Order of Battle” and “Enemies of the State” lists which practically serve as either a hit list for extrajudicial killings, profiling for surveillance and intimidation, or the stacking of made-up criminal charges against activists,” the groups said in a statement.
For the group, they treat the “enemy of the state” tag as a badge of honor, signifying that they must be doing something good for exposing and resisting Duterte’s terrorism against human rights.
“A government that perpetuates a culture of impunity against the people’s rights will treat human rights advocates as impediments to their blood-thirsty schemes,” according to Ryan Amper, spokesperson of Barug Katungod Mindanao.
“For Duterte to call human rights groups as ‘enemies’ means that there will be no let up in his ever-intensifying fascist attacks which, in Mindanao, has so far felled 154 community leaders and activists, filed trumped up charges against 700 human rights defenders and ordinary folks, and displaced more than half a million Moro and indigenous Lumad,” he said.(davaotoday.com)