Duterte’s ‘human rights’ vs. ‘human lives’ statement draws flak

July 23, 2018 - 7:36 PM
President Rodrigo Duterte considered "human rights" and "human lives" as separate entities in his third State of the Nation Address, irking the public. (Philstar/AJ Bolando)

For President Rodrigo Duterte, the concept of “human rights” and “human lives” are different.

In his third State of the Nation Address, the chief executive said: “If you think I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight with your protests, then you got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.”

“The lives of our youth are being wasted and families are destroyed, and all because of the chemicals called shabu, cocaine, cannabis, and heroine.”

“Human rights, to me, is giving those at the society’s fringes decent and dignified lives through social and physical infrastructure.”

According to Twitter user @iwriteasiwrite, the two cannot be separated from each other since human life “is a right” and human rights are “invested life.”

He/she noted that human rights make us human. To deprive people of such rights and make it different from human lives is considered “inhuman.”

Others similarly reasoned that human rights and human lives cannot be separated from one another.

User @CleveArguelles shared that “human rights is about protecting the right to life and maintaining a dignified life.”

User @heycaloy shared that the point of human rights is “to protect (human) lives.”

Human rights laws protect lives 

Human rights is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as “norms that help protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses.”

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it is the laws on human rights that protect life.

It furthermore mentioned: “Importantly, our human rights laws protect us all from arbitrary and excessive action by public officials that could result in loss of life or liberty, amount to degrading treatment, or intrude into our lives.”

Without laws that upheld human rights, lives would be put in danger, such as the failure of the government to exercise due process in cases.

Equality and Human Rights Commission continued: “One effect of these laws is to oblige our public authorities, such as hospitals, the police and local councils, to treat everyone with dignity, respect and fairness.”