Opinion: Human Rights, Left Behind

10/26/2017 08:46:00 PM Media Center 1 Comments

Photo Credit: Ezra Bustamante

Human rights are inherent to all human beings, whatever nationality, gender, or color. Everyone is equally entitled to these, yet there are still some countries or states in the world that violate them.

This is why the United Nations (UN) created the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which comprises 47 elected states, with the Philippines as one of the founding states. It aims to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe as well as to address various situations of human rights violations.

The UNHRC gives recommendations on what appropriate actions the nations should take when there are problems regarding the codes and rules implemented by the council. These are sent to and should be addressed by the administration in member nations.

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the UNHRC has sent 257 recommendations to President Duterte ever since the beginning of his Administration, 154 of which were dismissed. Disregarding these suggestions alone threatens the Philippines’ place in the UNHRC, not to mention the fact that the President openly cussed at the European ambassadors for “interfering with our affairs.”

This is why around early October of this year, there was speculation reported by Rappler in an article that the Philippines was going to be kicked out of the UNHRC because of the alleged extrajudicial killings committed under the Duterte administration.

These extrajudicial killings violate basic human rights, leaving victims left and right. The victims usually end up with parts of their corpses wrapped up in packing tape and with signs conveying messages that they are drug dealers or pushers and that they should not be pitied, looked up to, or respected as human beings.

A noticeable portion of these killings were also reported to be caused by members of the police force. These have been accompanied with accounts on how the people they killed were legitimate drug dealers or pushers, and that they got what they deserved.

However, they have not yet been convicted for any of their alleged crimes, and as they are still human beings, having their rights ignored in exchange for a skewed sense of justice is flat out appalling. According to the constitution, all have the right to due process when accused of criminal acts (Article III: Bill of Rights, Section 1). Being subjected to these extrajudicial killings denies people of this right, as they have already been “...deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

It is clear from these issues why the UNHRC would consider removing the country from the council. The majority of actions under the Duterte administration have been controversial, to say the least, oftentimes resulting in the death of one innocent or another. Add to that his disregard of the various complaints about how he runs the drug war, as well as how he thinks that the killings are justified, and that gives a reason as to why the UNHRC wants the Philippines out.

However, one man’s actions do not reflect the disposition of the entire state. As such, this cannot be considered as a concrete reason for the Philippines to be stripped of its privilege as a member of the UNHRC.

People who actively denounce these brutal activities make it clear that they are not behind President Duterte.

They are those who seek to change the current situation concerning this issue and will not allow it to continue any further. It shows that, even though a sizable chunk within the government goes against the UNHRC, the Filipino people are still aware of and continue to support what is right not only for themselves but for the rest of their countrymen.

Yes, this whole ordeal stems from the actions of people who give no regard for the rights of others. The dismissal of the recommendations and the council itself would clearly result in the eventual absence of any sense of human rights in the country. Ignorance encourages the killings to continue. This will lead to a slow collapse of society brought about by vigilantes seeking to avenge their slain family or friend, violent outcries against an unjust government, and the continuous death of countless innocents.

But the current administration is still young and has yet to reach its full potential. It has plenty of room for improvement, and with the help of the UN to further encourage it to follow their recommendations, it will surely foster a nation that respects and upholds the rights of every citizen of the Philippines. //by Philip Jocano, Marlyn Go and Francis Eloriaga 

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