President Duterte: Human rights cannot be used as an excuse to destroy the country

By Leslie D. Venzon

As he vowed anew an all-out war against illegal drugs and criminality, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Monday human rights must work to boost human dignity and build the country.

“Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country — your country and my country,” the President said in his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pamansa in Quezon City.

President Duterte stressed this as human rights organizations and advocates have called for a stop to the string of killings by police of suspected drug dealers and peddlers throughout the country.

The Chief Executive said it is the government’s obligation to protect the human rights of Filipinos.

“With this, my administration shall be sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote, and protect, fulfill the human rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable and social justice will be pursued, even as the rule of law shall at all times prevail,” he said.

President Duterte reiterated his administration’s relentless campaign against criminality and illegal drugs and corruption.

He ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government units (LGUs) “not to lower their guard.”

“There will be no let-up in this campaign. Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish,” the President added.

President Duterte also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to strictly monitor how LGUs perform their supervision functions of the police.

“…Those found not performing will be sanctioned, including the loss of police deputation from the NAPOLCOM (National Police Commission). Let me repeat my warning to all: Do not do drugs because you will be the solution to the drug crisis that has engulfed — malawak — the nation,” he said.

The President said the government will create an Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs that will integrate efforts and strengthen the partnership of all stakeholders.

“We will also prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users. We will increase the number of residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in all regions of the country,” he added.

President Duterte said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will facilitate the preparation for the use of military camps and facilities for drug rehabilitation. (PNA)

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