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Philippine faith groups warn against ‘rogue’ governance

September 26, 2016 ·  By Philippines for www.ucanews.com

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Duterte’s accused of being ‘selective’ when it comes to observing human rights

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Church and peace groups mark the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 with a protest march in Manila. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Faith groups in the Philippines have urged the public to “stay vigilant” against what they described as “rogue methods of governance” emerging in the country.

“Our tough-talking president has made clear his support for state forces in using deadly force in their war on drugs,” said Nardy Sabino, spokesman of the ecumenical group Promotion of Church People’s Response.

Since taking office in July, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has voiced support for the killing of drug users and peddlers and has even exhorted Filipinos to take the law into their own hands.

At least 3,800 people have so far been killed in the government’s war against narcotics.

“As much as we support an end to narco-politics in the Philippines, we are disturbed by an obvious upswing in the number of drug-related killings,” Sabino said.

Church and peace groups in the country highlighted the “importance of peace as a path to development” during the observance of the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc., said that while “criminality and drugs violate human dignity and destroy life, “the current government’s approach to curb it is no better.”

“We are deeply concerned that the tenor coming from the president is to kill so called low-lifers,” said Esguerra.

She said the government should address the needs of the poor “to combat poverty which is the root cause of the drug problem.”

Ellecer Carlos of the rights group iDefend described the government’s anti-narcotics war as a “war against humanity.”

Karen Tanada of the Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute said Duterte should not be “selective” in the implementation of human rights.

“Human rights are for all. Let us keep this in mind while we pave the way towards peace,” said Tanada.

Sabino called for a “sober investigation” of the summary executions. “The violation of the human rights of the poor and ordinary people should not be tolerated,” he said.

On Sept. 22, Duterte challenged the United Nations and the European Union to send observers to the Philippines to look into the government’s anti-narcotics war.

“I will tell them one by one…. You can watch how I will beat these devils to the ground,” said the president.

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