Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
Copyright: 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer
Author: Marlon Ramos


Define Human Being, Duterte Tells Rights Groups

DAVAO CITY - Junkies are not humans.

That is how President Duterte sees drug users whose bodies are piling 
up as he presses his brutal war on drugs.

International human rights groups and the United Nations have raised 
concern about the killings, but Mr. Duterte, addressing soldiers at a 
military camp in his hometown Davao City on Friday night, said those 
groups should review their concept of human rights.

"These human rights (advocates) did not count those who were killed 
before I became President. The children who were raped and mutilated 
[by drug users]," he said.

"That's why I said, '[W]hat crime against humanity?' In the first 
place, I'd like to be frank with you, are they (drug users) humans? 
What is your definition of a human being? Tell me," he said.

Mr. Duterte, 71, was angry at persistent criticism of his bloody 
crackdown on the illegal drug trade, which he launched right after 
taking office on June 30, with instructions to police to kill 
suspects who would resist arrest.

He promised bounties and protection from prosecution for officers who 
would kill drug lords, drawing criticism from UN special rapporteur 
on summary executions Agnes Callamard.

"Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and 
amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under 
international law," Callamard said in a statement posted last week on 
the website of the UN high commissioner for human rights.

"Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government 
from its international legal obligations and do not shield state 
actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings," she said.

UN special rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Puras added that 
the fight against illegal drugs must "respect the human rights of each person."

'Breach of fundamental rights'

In June, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Mr. Duterte's 
apparent support for extrajudicial killings, saying these were 
"illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms."

The United Nation's antidrugs office also this month said it was 
"greatly concerned" by reports of extrajudicial killings in the 
Philippine government's war on drugs.

Mr. Duterte, who won May's presidential election on a promise to kill 
tens of thousands of criminals and stamp out illegal drugs within six 
months, refused to back down. He called the United Nations "stupid" 
and threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the world body.

A former prosecutor and longtime mayor of Davao City, where he was 
linked to vigilante killings of crime suspects, Mr. Duterte sees 
criticism of his drug war and calls for an investigation of the 
extrajudicial killings as interference in Philippine domestic affairs.

'Use human rights properly'

In his speech to troops here on Friday night, he said those 
criticizing his war on drugs should use the concept of human rights 
"properly in the right context if you have the brains."

"Now, if your gray matter between the ears is melting, I cannot help 
you if that's your understanding," he said.

The Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" 
dela Rosa, told a Senate inquiry last week that 1,946 drug suspects 
had been killed since the launch of the campaign.

Of those killings, 756 were by police and the rest by other killers 
and the cases were under investigation, he said.

Police say the other killers could be vigilantes or drug syndicates, 
whose members are killing each other.

Mr. Duterte argued that the deaths were necessary because a war could 
not be waged without killing.

Military camps for rehab

He, however, asked the military to make available its camps for the 
rehabilitation of more than 700,000 drug users who had turned 
themselves in for fear of ending up dead.

"Give a little space, in the mountain, not here (in the city). You 
cannot rehabilitate these guys there if they remain (here). You have 
to isolate them," Mr. Duterte said.

"And for those that cannot be repaired ... these are really the 
(legally insane). They become dysfunctional," he said.

Interestingly, Mr. Duterte has never referred to drug users as 
"victims" who can still recover from addiction, as claimed by 
individuals and institutions involved in drug rehabilitation programs.

Mr. Duterte claimed that experts from the United States had told him 
that continued use of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) for one 
year would "shrink the brain," putting the users beyond redemption.

He said his critics should understand the extent of the drug problem 
in the Philippines, where there are 3.7 million people hooked on illegal drugs.

"This is no easy problem," he said. "This will pull down this country."

Again, Mr. Duterte lambasted the United Nations and other critics of 
his war on drugs.

He said the United Nations broke protocols when it issued a statement 
expressing concern about the killings.

"When I was mayor, you can really criticize me ... call me names. But 
these dimwits forgot that I'm now a President and I represent a 
country," Mr. Duterte said.

"Do not go outside to the media and start blabbering your mouth 
because I represent a sovereign state," he said.

Mr. Duterte said he did not care about what human rights advocates 
and experts from the United Nations were saying about his campaign 
against drugs.

"My business is to protect the people of the Philippines and keep 
intact the integrity of the republic. That is my solemn and sacred 
duty," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom