Press Release
December 10, 2017

*Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros
on the celebration of the International Human Rights Day

Human rights are not items of convenience. They are matters of principle. And the institutions we build are supposed to stand for these principles. And what are these principles? That every person has the right to life, and a chance to shape one's future. That no human being should be the target of discrimination in any form, and that those who society has pushed aside be given a voice.

These principles are now in peril under the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. It is thus imperative that we defend human rights, and fight state wrongs.

Over the past year, our government has failed its commitment to promote and secure the people's human rights. Through a bloody war on drugs that has victimized the poor and the helpless, through a sustained language of violence and sexism, and the deliberate stifling of dissent and critical thinking, this government has traded human rights away for a false promise of order and security. And it has treated those who would choose to defend human rights with contempt, even threatening them with violence.

We need to be better than this. State power exists to further and protect individual rights. And when this power is used to bludgeon people into silence and submission, then lines in the sand must be drawn to restore the State back to its people. Because when the institutions we build to protect us are used against us, we prove the tyrants and despots wrong and take them back.

Because our rights aren't suggestions or toys. They are anchors to a society of fairness for the many, and not the privileged few.

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