Robredo hits 'growing culture of apathy, impunity, lies'
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo again talked about defending human rights, but this time with direct jabs at President Rodrigo Duterte.
In her keynote speech at a human rights forum on Thursday, February 23, the Vice President urged Filipinos – especially parents – to fight the growing culture of apathy and impunity in the country.
"To the parents out there: let us think about this. Ultimately, it is our children who stand to lose parts of their soul from this growing culture of apathy, impunity, lies, and disregard for basic human rights," said Robredo.
"What kind of world are we leaving them as our legacy? What kind of message are we sending to our children when our leader says it is alright to kill and he will protect those who do so in the name of the war against drugs?"
The human rights forum had been held to commemorate the 30th death anniversary of former senator Jose Diokno. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines)
Diokno was a human rights lawyer who staunchly opposed the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The revered statesman was detained together with another opposition senator, Benigno Aquino Jr, in Camp Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija during the dictatorship.
Robredo's challenge to parents was inspired by Diokno's words in his book "A Nation for Our Children", which she quoted in her speech:
"There is one dream that all Filipinos share: that our children may have a better life than we have had. So there is one vision that is distinctly Filipino – the vision to make this country, our country, a nation for our children."
Be critical of drug war
The Vice President also urged the audience, students of the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Law, to be more critical of the drug war.
She said people should seek more transparency from the government in the conduct of the anti-narcotics campaign because public funds are used in the operations.
"What exactly is the scope of the drug problem? Why are the numbers about the extent of the problem as officially reported to the nation by our President inconsistent?" Robredo pointed out.
Duterte claimed there are 3.7 million Filipinos who are addicted to drugs, but the Dangerous Drugs Board puts the figure at only 1.8 million.
Robredo also said most of the 7,080 people killed in the government's bloody war against drugs were victims who had been poor.
"The poor are as human as we all are – unless you allow those with authority to take their humanity away. No one, not even the most feared leader, should ever have that power," she said.
"The thousands dead are an urgent call for us to make sense of what is happening to our country. Only when we understand why and how this is happening can we objectively think of how to solve criminalities."
DLSU College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno also encouraged the law students to uphold human rights.
"Is the war on drugs against illegal drugs? Or is it a war against human rights, rule of law?" said the eldest son of the late Senator Diokno.
"A lawyer lives in and by law; and there is no law when society is ruled not by reason but by will – worse, by the will of one man." – Rappler.com