MANILA – Amnesty International (AI) Philippines officials on Wednesday called attention to the numerous killings being committed in the Philippines and urged the Filipino people to make a stand against abuses.
Jose Noel Olano, head of office of AI Philippines, said the more than 7,000 killings since the Duterte administration initiated its war against drugs resulted in the Philippines landing in the foreword of its "The State of the World's Human Rights" 2016 global report, a status which the Philippines last earned during the martial law years.
Part of the report's foreword that covers 159 countries says: "Whether it is President (Donald) Trump, Prime Minister (Viktor) Orban (Hungary), Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi (India), President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan (Turkey) or President (Rodrigo) Duterte, more and more politicians calling themselves anti-establishment are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds scapegoats, and dehumanizes entire groups of people to win the support of voters who feel disenfranchised."
"The erosion of human rights values was most destructive when officials blame a specific 'other' for real or perceived social problems in order to justify their repressive actions. Hateful, divisive and dehumanizing rhetoric unleashed the darkest instincts of human nature," Olano said.
The group dubbed 2016 as an "awful year for human rights," and Olano said 2017 needs "human rights heroes."
AI-Philippines Campaign Coordinator Wilnor Papa said there is an urgent need for every Filipino to make a stand and express their disgust over what's happening.
The feeling of "fear," he said, must be abandoned for the sake of the country.
"Hinihingi natin maging vocal, wag matakot na aatakehin ng mga trolls online. Kumilos, magsalita at ipakita ang sentimiyento," Papa said.
Olano said it’s about time Filipinos fight for their rights, including the security of every citizen, especially now that even the state cannot be depended on.
'STATE-SPONSORED WITCH HUNT'
The group also criticized Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno's plan to post stickers in drug-free homes as part of the government's supposed non-violent approach to curb illegal drugs.
Such a move, he said, is no different from the city of Manila's "spray paint campaign" against drug users years ago which, he noted, failed to produce results.
"Hindi ito ang solusyon… ano ibig sabihin nito kung walang sticker? Delikado ito. Ang hinihingi natin solusyon, bakit meron tayong krimen? Bakit meron tayong drugs? Hindi talaga naso-solusyunan ang kawalang trabaho, kahirapan… ito ang dapat tugunan ng gobyerno," Papa said.
Olano likewise belittled the plan and said it would be a violation of basic rights.
"Kung may state-sponsored violence, ito ay state-sponsored witch hunt. Hindi tama yan. People have the right to privacy. That is an intrusion on the privacy of people. That is not the correct way to do it. Myopic way...government has to look at it from a more holistic view," he said.
Both officials, meantime, also denied the administration camp's claim that Amnesty International is pro-crime or pro-drugs. He said AI members and supporters are guardians of people's rights worldwide, they said.