Press Release
December 10, 2018


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day

President Rodrigo Duterte is the single biggest threat to human rights in the Philippines. The President has singlehandedly rolled back human rights safeguards and made the country a haven for human rights violators. By unleashing a bloody and abusive war on drugs, he has set into motion the killing of thousands, most of whom are poor people; this while big-time druglords like Peter Lim continue to be free and billions of pesos worth of shabu are smuggled into our country aided by corrupt government officials.

Under the Duterte administration, the rule of law is grossly distorted in favor of the corrupt, political cronies and plunderers. The right to dissent has been denigrated into plots to destabilize the government. The justice system is mostly efficient when legally harassing members of the opposition and the critical media, but grinds to a complete halt when dealing with the likes of Imelda Marcos. And on the few occasions that justice has actually prevailed, such as our important victory in the Kian delos Santos case, we have owed it to the people's untiring vigilance, which made the whitewashing of the extrajudicial killing untenable.

Women's rights are also constantly under attack under President Duterte. Women are threatened with rape and violence, publicly shamed and reduced to body parts. The President's language has become the primary medium through which sexism and misogyny are translated into real attacks against women, especially women in government who are highly critical of his anti-people policies.

Even church people are not spared President Duterte's violent rhetoric. The President's attack on Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and renewed threat to kill all Catholic bishops were made amid the killing of several Catholic priests. Many are concerned that this will create a chilling effect on the exercise of religion and contribute to stifling the right to dissent.

We cannot continue treading this path. I call on the people to push back and stand up against the threat to our human rights. When the institutions we build to protect us are used against us, we prove aspiring tyrants wrong and take them back. Human rights are not suggestions or ornaments. They are fundamental anchors to a society of fairness for the many, and not tools to be used by the privileged few.

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