In the ultimate ironic observance of the 70th anniversary of the December 10, 1948 signing of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration released a dystopian document that claims its coordinated campaign of extrajudicial killing is all part of an effort to “further human rights.”
“To protect the lives of the innocent law-abiding citizens of the country,” the release says, “this administration remains unrelenting in its crusade against criminality, corruption, terrorism, insurgency, and the proliferation of illegal drugs.”
“Every administration has its own emphasis and approach in its effort to make human rights real,” says the government. The “approach” to human rights chosen by Duterte, apparently, is mass murder. It’s unclear just how many people his administration has killed without trial for suspected drug-law violations, but the Philippines Commission on Human Rights estimates that as many as 27,000 people have been executed since 2016.
The “theme” for this year’s observation of Human Rights Day is “Protecting human lives, uplifting human dignity, and advancing people’s progress!” asserts the message from the Office of the President of the Philippines. “[O]ur celebration of seven decades of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] reflects our confidence that we are advancing human rights in a manner that truly values and responds to the needs of Filipinos.”
Officials outside the administration tell a very different story.
“President Rodrigo Duterte is the single biggest threat to human rights in the Philippines,” said Phillipines Senator Risa Hontiveros. “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.”
Duterte shows no signs of stopping this horror any time soon, despite the fact that he said last week that he himself smokes weed to “stay awake.”