While on a visit to soldiers in a certain military camp, Duterte was quoted in a transcription of his speech allegedly insinuating that drug victims are not humans.
“I’d like to be frank with you—are they humans?” Duterte reportedly asked, referring to drug users and dealers who are said to be “victims” of the full-blown illegal drug trade in the country.
The logic is that, if they are humans, then there’s no human rights violation to speak of. “Crime against humanity?” Duterte asked. “What is your definition of a human being? Human rights? Use it properly in the right context if you have the brains.”
Duterte issued these statements late Friday as he also ignored the concerns of the United Nations (UN) over the state of human rights in the country. At one point, he had even toyed with the idea of taking Philippine membership out from the UN, but later balked at it. It will be remembered how some UN diplomats like Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had issued statements in June condemning Duterte’s seeming support for the extrajudicial killings.
Moreover, Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary killings, saw Duterte’s directives on how the anti-drug is to be carried out as amounting “to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”
Add to this the recent statement of General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, PNP chief, suggesting how drug users should take vengeance on their drug suppliers for victimizing them thus. “Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger,” Dela Rosa had said, but which he later apologized for in a Senate hearing.
Duterte’s aggressive anti-drug campaign has already claimed hundreds of lives of alleged drug suspects plus thousands more assumed to be victims of drug-related extrajudicial killings. Now, Duterte seems to further belittle the issue by hinting that drug victims are not really humans.
But going by his past records of retracting on his earlier statements, some observers are sure Malacanang is again going to come out with a statement soon saying the president was just joking or too exhausted.
But since Duterte has declared an all-out war against illegal drugs, he reminded everyone that “You cannot wage a war without killing,” he said, stressing that for some drug users rehabilitation was out of the question.
However, Duterte staunchly commended Dela Rosa for the remark. “That’s my style. He is following it.”
On the UN statements against his anti-drug campaign, Duterte had this to say: “They want me to go prison? Do those idiots think I will be captured alive. My God, we will be together in hell.”
President Duterte, already 71, won a landslide win during the last presidential elections. Among his popular campaign promises was go hard after the drug trade in the country, and especially killing thousands of drug dealers and criminals to keep the Philippines from turning into a narco-state in the offing.