MANILA, Philippines – Security should not come at the expense of human rights.
Opposition vice presidential candidate Senator Gregorio Honasan II stressed the importance of protecting human rights in ensuring national security.
Honasan, a former rebel soldier campaigning on a security platform, said the extra-judicial killing of criminals should not be justified as a tool for ensuring peace and order.
“Article III (the Bill of Rights of the Constitution) states that we must protect life, liberty, and property. It is okay to be determined to fight criminality without forgetting to respect human rights and human life, liberty, and property,” Honasan said on Tuesday, December 15.
Honasan’s comments came as presidential bet Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte faces criticism from human rights groups for admitting that he killed criminals. Global human rights organizations link Duterte to the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group allegedly responsible for killing drug dealers, petty criminals, and even street children.
The vice presidential bet though clarified that his remarks were not directed at Duterte, but only meant to elaborate on his platform.
“That’s not to pass judgment on the other candidates and their platforms and programs,” Honasan said.
Duterte’s human rights record elicits controversy and mixed views. Many of his constituents in Davao hail his two-decade leadership for transforming the city into a peaceful metro in the troubled southern Philippines. But critics question his means and national leaders’ “political tolerance” of the alleged rights abuses.
Honasan said that for the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), security is not just about ensuring peace and order, or using the power of the military and the police.
“Security is anti-crime, anti-terrorism, job security, security when you get stuck in traffic and you’re in danger of being laid off or penalized, security of our minimum wage – those forms of security. These are serious problems that all candidates and parties must discuss and address so we heal political divisions after May 2016,” he said.
The senator said that if the next leaders are able to respond to internal security issues, they can better resolve global problems like the South China Sea dispute.
Honasan cited his background as a soldier of 17 years, a rebel of 7 years, and a senator of 15 years to show that he and Binay will be able to deliver on their promises.
Styling themselves as the candidate of the masses, Binay and Honasan vow to reduce poverty, hunger, and unemployment. They are among the most experienced contenders, with the Vice President often citing his record as Makati mayor for 21 years.
The two face corruption allegations that they dismiss as political propaganda.
“It’s up to the electorate to judge who are the worthy candidates. We have no time to make promises. The public has no patience. We have to deliver. That must be based solely on capability, performance, experience, and competence,” Honasan said.
‘Safeguarding rights Binay advocacy’
In the wake of Duterte’s candidacy, Amnesty International challenged presidential candidates to come up with a human rights platform.
Binay, a human rights lawyer during martial law, said that society must protect the “human rights of every man, woman and child.”
“Safeguarding human dignity and the rights of individuals is an issue which I championed in my early years as a lawyer and activist,” Binay said on December 10, Human Rights Day.
“Many of our people continue to remain at risk of harassment, acts of violence, cruel treatment, and even death. Our task therefore is to put a stop the long culture of impunity that perpetuates abuses,” he added.
The Vice President though frames the issue of human rights in line with his campaign platform.
“As one Nobel Peace Prize awardee once said, ‘Poverty is the absence of all human rights,’” said Binay.
The opposition standard-bearer uses his rags-to-riches story to set himself apart from what he calls his “elite” rivals.
Binay is known for his appeal to the masses, his grassroots campaign style, and a network of local leaders he cultivated in his two decades as local chief executive. – Rappler.com
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