“All these and more only make the calls to end Duterte’s murderous regime and to prosecute him for his atrocities even more urgent. One more year of Duterte is too long. We cannot let another dead body be added to this regime’s death toll.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat that he will kill those who destroy the country might be construed as “practically a plea of guilt to charges of crimes against humanity.”
This is the reaction of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in Duterte’s sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, also said that Duterte’s statement only confirms “his deranged desire to continue his kill, kill, kill policy with his long and shameless apologia for the drug war and the bloody counterinsurgency crackdown — even going as brazen as giving the order shoot them dead’ in the halls of Batasan.”
Duterte defended his campaign against illegal drugs and encouraged killing more those who the government perceived as “destroying” the country.
However, Duterte’s so-called war on drugs was highly criticized as it has claimed thousands of lives.
Admittedly, Duterte said in his speech that the problem with illegal drugs is far from being solved as Manila is “not like Davao.”
“I would be frank, I would never deny and the ICC can record it: Those who destroy my country, I will kill you. And those who destroy the young people of our country, I will kill you. I will destroy you because I love my country,” Duterte said.
Just last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) through its former Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested judicial authorization to investigate the drug related killings in the Philippines.
“He may brag and pretend not to care, but his quip to ‘add another’ dead body amid the calls for accountability is an insidious—and serious—threat: he will stop at nothing to sate his blood lust, and we can only expect his order to translate to actual killings as they have done in the past five years,” Palabay said.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), meanwhile said Duterte is being defensive on his war on drugs campaign. He said Duterte’s speech has “signaled that the massacre policy would remain in place for the remaining months of his term.”
Duterte also called on Congress to pass a law that would provide free legal assistance to members of the military and police when they are charged with crimes arising from incidents that occurred while they were performing official duties.
In reaction, Olalia said that there is no need to have such a law because in principle, all Filipinos, including the uniformed personnel, are entitled to constitutional and even universal rights to due process and the right to counsel.
“But more fundamentally, such proposed free legal assistance to them will be totally unnecessary if only they perform their jobs properly, regularly and legally, consistent and in accordance with basic rights and freedoms of the people. In fact, with all these rights violations and abuses, it is the victims of security forces that most need free, competent and independent counsel,” Olalia said.
‘No more Duterte’
Palabay said that while Duterte did not offer any meaningful steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, “he threatens to continue to impose the same harsh lockdowns that have been marked with violations on basic rights and freedoms driven by a military-led Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).”
“All these and more only make the calls to end Duterte’s murderous regime and to prosecute him for his atrocities even more urgent. One more year of Duterte is too long. We cannot let another dead body be added to this regime’s death toll. We cannot allow this tyrannical and incompetent governance to continue to claim lives and freedoms,” Palabay said.