Duterte: Rights complaints will fall on deaf ears

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

MANILA — President Duterte continues to brush aside criticisms hurled against him by human rights groups in the country and abroad in relation to his anti-illegal drug campaign that has been marred by killings of thousands of suspects.

“Yang droga, for those human rights in or out of the Philippines, hear this: forget about it. Your complaints would just fall on deaf ears. Hindi kita pakikinggan (I will not listen to you),” Duterte said in a speech in Sual, Pangasinan the other day.

Duterte is bent on fulfilling his campaign promise to protect the Filipino people from criminals and drug syndicates.

He lamented that his critics refused to listen to his reasons for launching the war against drug trafficking.

“Ang masakit sa akin (What hurts me), human rights guys who would come here and with their counterparts also off their rockers, sasabihin, ‘Ito ang listahan sa namatay, extrajudicial kills (telling me, ‘Here is the list of those who were killed, extrajudicially killed),’” the Chief Executive said.

“But you come here, you just take a look at the list without asking me why and we became a narco-politics, the Philippines, about four or five years ago. That’s the problem,” he added.

Apart from his campaign promise to improve peace and order, Duterte also called for a stop to corruption.

“And I told you, if you elect me as president, I will stop corruption – and it will stop,” he said.

Duterte said he sees the need to change the Constitution to address the various problems in governance, including the issue of corruption.

“I have even made a proposal, because they think that what I wanted was to change the Constitution and be a dictator,” he said.

Duterte reiterated his call to change the Constitution but he was quick to shrug off claims he was out to extend his term as president. He appealed to the Filipino people not to be wary of Charter change because he has no intention to extend his term.

“…huwag kayong matakot (don’t be scared) and you can include even the powers of the presidency, constrict it… Do not add the powers to what is provided for in the Constitution right now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has said the promotion and protection of human rights should not be politicized but it is essential that the country will continue to work to make human rights central to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agenda.

“The Philippines has always been at the forefront of and will continue pushing for strengthening a rights-based approach in the ASEAN,” Cayetano said after he was briefed on the outcome of the 25th meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) that was held in Bohol on Nov. 26-27.

Chaired by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera-Lim, the meeting brought together the 10 ASEAN member-state representatives and the ASEAN secretariat to review the progress of the implementation of the human rights priority programs and activities 2014-2017.

“I commend the AICHR for the excellent work it has done throughout the Philippine chairmanship in promoting and integrating a rights-based approach in the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN,” Cayetano said.

It was under the Philippine chairmanship that the AICHR first met with ASEAN senior economic officials to discuss initiatives to promote corporate social responsibility and strengthen human rights practices in the private sector, according to Herrera-Lim.

“We hope that our interface with the ASEAN’s Economic Community can be held regularly and we can have concrete collaboration with them on how to apply the rights-based approach in the business sector,” he said.