Sanchez: Respect for human rights

Nature Speaks

I’M A human rights advocate. I took a course work on human rights advocacy focusing on economic, social and cultural rights in Columbia University, New York, USA.

I passed because of my nongovernment organization (NGO) work in rights-based approaches on sustainable development in Negrense mountains in behalf of poor mountain communities and indigenous peoples.

Then later on, I took up human rights education training in Montréal, Canada where my understanding on human rights expanded to cover women and child’s rights, migrants. I learned from the experiences of other human rights educators from other countries.

But now I find myself a keyboard human rights warrior over social media.

Recently, I had a running online discussion with a Mindanao-based lawyer. It seems he also took up the International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP)–a three-week program designed to equip human rights educators with knowledge and tools that they can then take back to their communities.

So we had a running discussion on the illegal drug trafficking. We often exchange notes, bearing in mind that we should respect each other’s views.

“So at least, we can level-off that drug trafficking should be declared illegal,” said the lawyer. “The question is on its implementation, he goes on, “Specifically, how the law enforcers tasked is implementing the law. I know you do not like President Duterte, but with due respect po, parang unfair din sabihin na this government has ‘low regard for human rights’ when different institutions are working hard to implement a law. I know that the PNP, as an institution, is pursuing the implementation of rights-based policing.”

He said, “Deaths of the innocent during police operations are really unfortunate. Ideally, no death should happen. In fact, in one incident that I know, hindi lang yung bata ang namatay. Pati yung poseur-buyer (the casualty was not only the child but also the poseur buyer). So it is really hard to judge what happened at that time.”

As far as the treatment and rehabilitation, it is also being done naman. In fact, sobrang puno na nga ng mga rehabilitation facilities (rehabilitations are overflowing already). More so with plea bargaining being allowed in drugs cases, he added.

The irony is, while the drug lords are enriching themselves, we the taxpayers are to shoulder the cost of rehabilitating the lives that they destroyed. Then the government still gets to be blamed, he said.

My short response: “How can this be legal and expect high regards for law enforcers when the CiC (Commander-in-Chief) himself instructed his subordinates: ‘I said, O sir, if they are there, destroy them also. Especially if they put up a good fight. O ‘pag walang baril, walang—bigyan mo ng baril (If the suspect has no gun, give him one).’”

And for good measure, I added this: “Is there any respect for human rights when the CiC talks about this? Should our law enforcers follow illegal orders?

Well, I await his response.


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