(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 23, 2016 – 12:00am
Respect human rights and humanitarian law and uphold the rule of law in all operations, President Duterte told the Armed Forces of the Philippines the other day. The AFP was celebrating its 81st anniversary, and the statement was issued a day after the United Nations human rights chief called on Philippine authorities to investigate the President for killings that he reportedly committed personally or endorsed.
Although the President yesterday continued to defend his vicious war on illegal drugs, the order to the AFP raises hope among rights advocates. The AFP has been criticized in the past for human rights violations and alleged extrajudicial killings, with retired Army general Jovito Palparan dubbed as “the butcher” and portrayed as the poster boy for military abuses.
AFP officials have insisted that all killings were done in the course of legitimate counterinsurgency or counterterrorism operations. Military officers have also complained of violations not only of their human rights but also of rules on the conduct of warfare by enemies of the state, who are not bound by international agreements.
Human rights advocates are waiting for the President to issue a similar directive to the Philippine National Police, which is waging the bloody war on drugs that has so far claimed nearly 6,000 lives in just six months. Rights advocates may have a long wait ahead.
The President’s adherence to human rights appears to be reserved only for the troops fighting the lowlifes who torch and pillage villages, burn churches, kidnap and mutilate victims, and bomb businesses and public utility towers. For those who are addicted to drugs, there is no mercy and rights are non-existent.
Like justice, respect for human rights cannot be selective. Soldiers cannot play nice with their foes while police are freely shooting to kill. There cannot be opposing marching orders for the military and police.
Tags: Armed Forces of the Philippines, counterinsurgency or counterterrorism operations, Duterte, extrajudicial killings, illegal drugs, Philippine National Police, Philippines, Respect human rights and humanitarian law, rule of law, Summary executions, United Nations human rights chief