By Krysten Mariann Boado and Kate Tayamora
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago, together with students from the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD), challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to stand up for human rights in a candle-lighting protest against summary and extrajudicial killings held Aug. 11 at Palma Hall, UPD.
Elago expressed her disappointment over the president’s little regard for human rights, pointing out that aside from allowing the killings to persist, Duterte has insisted on bringing back the death penalty as part of his war on crime and drugs.
“Ang isyu ng drugs ay reflection lamang noong kalagayan ng ating lipunan na talagang laganap pa rin ang kahirapan, pang aapi, ang pananamantala,” the congresswoman said.
“Hindi natin sinusuportahan [ ang death penalty ] dahil sa tingin pa natin kailangan pa nating palakasin yung sistema ng hustisya sa ating bansa dahil sa kasalukuyang, ang kalagayan, bulok, really flawed, hindi pantay, at anti-poor yung ating justice system,” she added.
In his first press conference on May 15 in Davao, Duterte asked lawmakers to restore capital punishment for certain crimes. These crimes include rape, robbery, and involvement in illegal drugs, among others.
House Bill 01, which was received by the Congress on the same day Duterte took office, gave priority to the president’s push for the reimposition of death penalty on the first legislative session.
The Bill also cited illegal sales and use of drugs as the root cause of “the most perverse and atrocious crimes.”
“Ang problema natin sa droga ay nakita natin, iyan ay nakaugat sa malala na hindi pagkapantay pantay sa ating lipunan, lalong lalo na doon sa pagtamasa sa access ng bawat isa sa atin sa mga basic social services,” Elago said.
“Dapat talaga, wholistic yung approach natin sa war versus drugs na tayo ay magpo-provide ng rehabilitation program para sa ating mga kababayan, at bukod pa doon, palalawakin natin yung access ng ating mga kababayaan sa basic social services,” she added.
Besides calling for an end to these human rights violations, the students also urged Duterte to open an investigation for not only summary killings but also media and Lumad killings.
They also encouraged the public to stand up against these acts of violence.
“Hanggang ngayon iisa pa rin ang sinisigaw natin, na ipaglaban nag karapatang pantao, at sana ay lubusan na lumakas ang boses natin at pakinggan tayo ng administrasyon, dahil kailangan ngayon, kung hindi ngayon, ay kailan pa titigil ang mga pagpatay na ito?” said Adrienne Onday, founder of the Cardboard Justice Movement.
Likewise, Elago said change must not only come from the president as he himself had declared that he needed all the support he can get from Filipinos.
“Dapat tayo ay kumilos, hindi ng kanya-kanya, kundi dapat organisado at sama sama, para humingi ng hustisya sa lahat ng victims nitong killings na ito,” Elago said. #