REACTIONS to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s, “What is the difference between minors killed by drug addicts and minors killed by policemen” line during the Senate hearing into the killing of minor Kian delos Santos by three Caloocan policemen still simmer, especially in social media. Let me give my 10 cents worth on it.
In a way, Aguirre was right that we must condemn every killing—and I would add even those not involving minors. But his intention to advance that line had political intent. The Duterte administration has been put on the defensive by the issue so he thought promoting the line would help the administration wiggle out of its predicament.
Condemnation of a killing, especially those considered as heinous, is almost always automatic in a society, that is why to insinuate that the “dilawans” or human rights groups didn’t want to condemn the killing of a minor in Bulacan is mental dishonesty. Again, all people automatically condemn any killing. It’s just that the noise on Kian’s killing is decibels higher.
Why is this so? One, this is the first extra-judicial killing among the thousand since President Duterte launched his war against drugs wherein proof can be had of the victim’s innocence and the senselessness of the crime committed. Two, precisely because policemen were involved that the condemnations have been overwhelming. When authorities are involved in a crime people always react loudly.
Which brings me to the beef of the Aguirres and Mocha Usons of this world about human rights groups and human rights. Human rights are universal, meaning everybody possesses these whether they are “dilawans,” “Dutertards” or ordinary street dwellers. That is why when these are violated, whether by drug addicts or policemen, the violation should be condemned.
But here’s the point. So human rights would be promoted and respected, agencies that have ascendancy over peoples should adopt and advance these. In states like the Philippines, government officials are the ones tasked to do it. That is why human rights are in the constitution and related laws have been enacted for the purpose. What I am saying is that the promotion and protection of people’s rights is primarily the task of Aguirre, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and everybody in government.
Unfortunately, not every state in the world and not all government officials in every state advance and protect human rights and instead violate these, sometimes with impunity. That is why watchdogs were or are being created to correct this anomaly. For who will protect those whose governments are the ones riding roughshod over their rights? Thus, those who wrote our 1987 Constitution included a provision creating the Commission on Human Rights.
When rights are violated, or when a drug addict killed that minor in Bulacan, government should not only lead in the condemnation of the crimes but also ensure that those who violated the victims’ rights are punished. The situation changes when government officials themselves violate people’s rights, like when the policemen killed Kian. Would government move against its own? Independent bodies should step in or pressures from outside are needed so it would.