Sunday, August 21, 2016

DLSU Law Dean Diokno: 'Glaring violations of human rights' rampant today

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The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - "Glaring violations of human rights" are happening in the country every day, particularly in the Philippine National Police's implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs.

This was the lament of Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, the dean of the College of Law at the De La Salle University, on Friday during a media training on monitoring the judiciary.

He zeroed in on the practice where police go from house to house, knock on residents' doors, and ask if they can search these homes.

"And then if they say no, the police will say, 'Well, if you aren't hiding anything, why don't you want us to search, while your neighbors allowed us to search?' So now you feel guilty. And then after that, they will say, 'Please list the names of all those living here over 18 years old'," Diokno said.

All of these were human rights violations, he noted.

"Those are all excessive use of authority because that's not how the police are supposed to operate. What are the police supposed to do? Investigate crimes. File, do their own investigation as to who are using drugs, pushing drugs, and other crimes. Your consent to a search is only valid if it is knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily (given). If the police are that intrusive, na talagang in effect, they are impliedly insisting, using psychological tactics to induce you to consent, that again is illegal," he explained.

Worse, extrajudicial killings were happening on a daily basis. 

He pointed out that one of the basic human rights was the right to life, and that the government had to respect that, not only because it was bound by the 1987 Constitution, but also because it was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), among other treaties.

The ICCPR is the "first multilateral treaty to recognize the inherent dignity of the human person." The 1966 document also obliges nations "to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms."

Under the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which the Philippines signed in 2006 and ratified in 2007 "without reservation," states "are required to renounce the use of the death penalty definitively." 

According to Diokno, Congress repealed capital punishment in 2006, the same year it signed the treaty.

But President Duterte had previously declared his intent to have it restored, and Congress has been cooperative, with bills for the imposition of the death penalty on certain heinous crimes filed both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Despite the bleak picture, Diokno urged the media to continue fighting for human rights.

He quoted his father, the late Senator Jose Diokno, as saying, "No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights... they are what makes us human. Deny them and you deny our humanity."

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