CHR: Duterte tirades vs Callamard send 'chilling effect' to human rights advocates

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday, September 1, expressed concern that President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest tirade against United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard sends a “chilling effect” to human rights defenders.  

CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana reminded Duterte that Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary executions, just wanted to remind the government to uphold human rights in its drug war.

"What UN Special Rapporteur Callamard said was just a reminder to government to ensure that these extrajudicial killings must stop,” Gana said in a statement. “There is no reason to take it in a negative way.” 

On Monday, August 28, Duterte hurled expletives against Callamard after she called on the Philippine government to ensure that the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos would be the last in his drug war.  

“‘Tangina niya, sabihin mo. Huwag niya ako takutin. Putangina niya. Gago pala siya eh (Son of a bitch, tell her. She shouldn’t try to scare me. Son of a bitch. She’s a fool),” he said.

Duterte’s expletives are the latest in his series of attacks against Callamard and human rights advocates who have continuously criticized his bloody drug war.  Nore than 3,500 people had been killed police anti-drug operations since Duterte took over last year. (READ: 'Demonizing' human rights in the first year of Duterte) 

No less than the President himself had warned that he would order authorities to shoot members of human rights groups for “obstructing justice.” 

CHR feared the continuous tirades of Duterte against human rights advocates would affect the latter's work.

Rose Trajano of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) on Thursday, August 31, said that the harassment and threats have already silenced some stakeholders.

Marami na rin ang natatakot,” she said at the launch of HR Online PH’s “Protect Freedom of Expression” project. “Dati, alam mo kung sino ang kalaban mo, ngayon eh magsulat ka lang online defending human rights, kung ano-ano na ang sasabihin sa’yo.” 

(Many are getting scared. Before, you know who you are fighting with. Now, you just defend your stand online on human rights and you’ll be bombarded with threats.) –


Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.