'Democracy has never been more alive in PH' – Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano slammed Human Rights Watch (HRW) for saying that President Rodrigo Duterte "plunged the Philippines in its worst human rights crisis" since the Marcos dictatorship.

Cayetano claimed the exact opposite, even as thousands die in Duterte's drug war, and as government attacks political opponents and stifles a free press.

"Democracy has never been more alive in the Philippines as we finally have a government that we can really say is of the people and for the people and not for the rich and the powerful alone," Cayetano said in a statement Saturday, January 20.

"Our booming economy is a testament to good governance and adherence to law," he added.

The Philippine foreign secretary issued this statement after HRW on Thursday, January 18, released a report saying, "President Rodrigo Duterte has plunged the Philippines in its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 1980s." 

HRW cited not only the drug war killings, but also attacks on government critics, as well as harassment and threats against critical journalists.  

Massive disinformation campaign?

Referring to the drug war killings, Cayetano claimed, "Human Rights Watch has politicized the issue for its own gain and has not done any real research, study or investigation on the human rights situation in the Philippines."

He also blamed a "massive disinformation campaign" supposedly mounted by the administration's critics, who despise the kind of "change" instituted by Duterte.

"It is because this change is disruptive, those who were previously above the law and those who have political interests to advance have resorted to a massive disinformation campaign," Cayetano said.

Other critics have also compared the Duterte regime to the Marcos dictatorship. 

Most recently, activists said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruling to revoke Rappler's license is a move toward dictatorship

It is against this backdrop that Duterte and his allies want to revise the the 1987 Philippine Constitution, a move that a prominent archbishop said should not be fully entrusted to Congress. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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