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27 February 2018 — “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’

And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’” (Genesis 3: 8-11)

In this Bible passage, we see the Creator of human beings—the Giver of human rights—graciously seeking Adam and Eve and providing an opportunity for their side to be heard; although all-knowing, HE granted Adam and Eve due process. Due process which is essential to human rights.

I am here on behalf of the Filipino people to reaffirm our commitment to human rights. I am here to ask that we all practice what we preach.

 

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address this august body.

Human rights and the dignity of every person is the main pillar of the United Nations. So it is for the Philippines. As a very spiritual people we are united in believing that man and woman were created in GOD’s image. Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, all us believe that we are created in GOD’s image. That there can be no compromise on human rights. We also believe in accountability, that as a community of nations we are stronger when we care for each other and struggle together. When we view mankind regardless of race, religion, creed, color, or economic status, as one big family. It is a fundamental truth that we shall reap what we sow.

It is a state’s duty to protect human life, human dignity, and human rights—from aggression by other states, terrorism from non-state actors, and the weakening of rule of law which destroys societies. The state has the fundamental obligation of maintaining peace and order that leads to progress and development.

Criminal networks trafficking in drugs, people and arms are a clear and present danger to modern day societies. The world recognized the evil of states that sponsor terrorism. Surely one cannot deny the systematic destruction of society, the rule of law and the family are characteristics of a NARCO-STATE.

We believe it is our responsibility to uphold human rights across the board. We believe in the state’s responsibility to protect its people—self-evidently from an abusive government—but equally compelling from any who deny and destroy the human rights of others. In particular, the criminal trades and organizations that take wealth, destroy the health, and the very minds of decent law-abiding people in increasing numbers.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Filipino People are committed to real change, or “tunay na pagbabago” in our language, to finally carrying out needed radical reforms, to addressing national threats long ignored, protecting the human rights of all Filipinos, while doing our part in attaining regional peace and stability. We are saving the FAMILY and building a peaceful and progressive COMMUNITY.

As a responsible leader, recognizing imminent threats, the Philippine President launched a vigorous campaign against the illegal drug trade to save lives, to preserve families, to protect communities and stop the country from sliding into a narco-state. An epidemic that could spell the end of sovereignty in any meaningful sense.

As a sovereign nation, we deserve respect and even support for our right to life and liberty, our sovereign right to self-determination. To make our people safe and secure from all threats, terrorism, corruption and criminality. As you have seen in the ISIS’ attempt to take over Marawi, TERRORISM pretending to be an ideology or pursuit of religious beliefs which were manipulated and perverted, is absolutely destructive and funded by the drug trade.

We remain true to our obligations under international treaties we have ratified. We have made much sacrifices and continue to be willing to make sacrifices.

The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its development initiatives for the purpose of protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable, from the lawlessness, violence, and anarchy; particularly families, women and children, the poor, indigenous people, migrant workers, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

This yearning for a comfortable and secure life is what prompted a paradigm shift demanded by our people for brave action and swift solutions, matapang na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon.

We owe it to the 10 million Filipinos working overseas to keep their children and families safe. We owe it to all Filipinos to keep the Philippines safe.

That same concern articulates our President’s uncompromising stand against the abuse of our migrant workers, numbering more than 10 million. To quote our President, “the Filipino is no slave to anyone anywhere and everywhere.”

We expect the same decent treatment for those of our people who go out to seek their fortune abroad, as the Philippines has extended to those who fled their countries to save their lives, no questions asked on our part, no investigation into who is to blame required.

The Philippines’ comprehensive campaign against corruption, terrorism and criminality, especially against methamphetamine trade, is a necessary instrument to preserve and protect the human rights of all Filipinos.

It was not meant and should NEVER be an instrument to VIOLATE any individual’s or group’s human rights. The Philippine President has called law enforcers who ABUSE their position and violate our own people’s rights, as worse than CRIMINALITY ITSELF. They will bear the full force of the law.

Security and human rights are not incompatible. Indeed, the first is our duty to the other. Without security, the most basic human rights, to life and safety, are constantly under attack.

II.

When does the quest for human rights become a human wrong? It is when human rights is politicized and “weaponized.”

We should never tolerate human rights abuses. Neither should we tolerate misinformation, fake news, alternative facts, and politicization of human rights, for these undermine our collective efforts at the United Nations.

Excellencies, may I echo the words of the UN Secretary General yesterday that “we must speak up for human rights in an impartial way without double standards... and not allow (it) to be instrumentalized as a political tool.”

We have been called upon to cooperate with the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, we have always cooperated, and today, we REAFFIRM our readiness to cooperate. All we ask for is fairness. There are 7.5 billion people in the world; send us anyone EXCEPT one who has already prejudged us, and who, by any measure, cannot be considered independent, more so, objective.

When a UN Special Rapporteur cries out, like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “First the judgment, then the trial”, when she culls evidence only for what might support her prejudgment, she loses the moral high ground and is stripped of any credibility.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of this Council’s Special Procedure’s system. For this purpose, it is imperative that all Special Procedures Mandate-holders must strictly observe the Special Procedures’ Code of Conduct and methods of work.

Let us in this regard take to heart our Secretary-General’s warning yesterday not to politicize—may I even add WEAPONIZE—human rights.

How will the honorable members of this Council convince countries to work with the HRC if there is a perception of prejudice and prejudgment? May I recall that several member states have also expressed concerns about the conduct of certain mandate-holders.

Yet such conduct elicits cheers and encouragement from some NGOs who have lost their way. Who claim to fight for human rights but conveniently forget the basic tenets of human rights. Who forget the purpose of the special procedure and other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council.

Human rights becomes a HUMAN WRONG when the ridiculous assertion is taken seriously that drugs are harmless, that their effects are benign at best and passing at worst, and that taking the most vigorous measures to stop the evil trade constitutes genocide. Even the UNODC has stated that methamphetamine leads to violent actions from those who take it. That puts drug dealers and drug pushers on the same moral level as the victims of holocausts.

We will not allow these NGOs portray an unfair and unjust image of our country nor will we let it question the strength of our democracy. Some of them have politicized and weaponized the issue for their own gain, putting their political and economic advocacies ahead of genuine human rights advocacies.

An example is the advocacy to legalize drugs. With no real research, study or investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines, these NGOs judged and condemned the government’s campaign against drugs and criminality. Faulty generalization. We were taught in elementary school not to rush to judgment, not to be brash, not to have faulty generalizations.

There are those who were silent when drug syndicates ruled with impunity. When children aged 2 to 6 years old were being raped, families massacred and not less then 10,000 people a year were being murdered. Yet suddenly when this impunity is being addressed, they deliberately misrepresent the facts and figures to make it appear that there exists a culture of impunity in the Philippines and that the country’s democratic institutions are at risk. That freedom of expression and press freedom are threatened.

Philippine democracy is thriving. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are alive and vibrant. People and not just the elite are being empowered. Yes, the ordinary people are being empowered. The Duterte administration has seen and welcomed rallies, criticisms from various camps, however vitriolic and politically-motivated these may be, and unfettered media coverage.

In fact we confidently challenge anyone to name a country where the press is MORE FREE than in the Philippines. We recognize no law and no authority that can abridge freedom of speech and of the press in any medium.

III.

A foremost proponent of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said it is not enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it is not enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

Or biblically speaking: “Faith without action is dead.”

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UDHR this year, we are reminded of our duty to go beyond talking about human rights, peace, security and development.

Indeed, the Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the spirit of MULTILATERALISM embodied in the very creation of the United Nations and in the work and aspirations of this Council. Constructive engagement in a multilateral context is badly needed in our world today. We need to ENGAGE and act, and not merely NAME AND SHAME.

As an original member of the Council in 2006, the Philippines helped the institutionalization of this body. Then and now, we believe that nations must try to seek ways on how we could further contribute to the noble and necessary mission of the Human Rights Council to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of our people.

The Philippines was among the first members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947. As such, we think WE KNOW when its invocation is appropriate and when it is a SHAM, POLITICIZED and WEAPONIZED.

Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, Mr. President,

Never in the whole of human history have we been more connected with the ability to help one another, and yet we are living in the most challenging times. Protracted wars and terrorism, human trafficking and smuggling, illegal drugs destroying families, communities and even countries, and rampant criminality organized and funded sufficiently to threaten states as much as foreign enemies can do.

The Philippines stands ready to face and overcome these challenges through TAPANG and MALASAKIT—boldness/bravery and genuine concern for human rights.

Tapang at Malasakit mula sa Pilipinong Maka DIYOS at Maka Bayan! END