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Duterte: Human rights not an excuse to destroy country

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned human rights advocates not to use the issue as an excuse to destroy the Philippines.

In his first State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress, Duterte said: "Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country."

Duterte often criticized human rights advocates, the Commission on Human Rights, (CHR) and congressional inquiries for allegedly undermining their anti-crime and -illegal drug operations by submitting them to various investigations.

In his inaugural address, Duterte asked Congress and the CHR to allow his administration perform its duty against crime and illegal drugs as mandated by the votes he received in the May elections.

“In this fight, I ask Congress and the Commission on Human Rights and all others who are similarly situated to allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained,” he said.

“You mind your work and I will mind mine,” Duterte added, referring to Congress and the CHR.

The CHR responded to the statement feeling “heartened by his affirmation to adhere to due process and the rule of law in addressing the many issues he will face during his incumbency.” 

Meanwhile, a group of human rights lawyers scored Duterte on July 4 for the “madness” of disrespecting the human rights of drug offenders amid the spate of slain suspected drug users and pushers. 

“Human rights are not only for the criminals or dregs of society as some may think or believe. It is more to protect the far too many others who are innocent or turn out to be innocent. Enough already,” National Union of People's Lawyers Secretary General Atty. Edre Olalia said.

In defense of the law enforcers, Solicitor General Jose Calida told the police on July 11 not to be afraid of any Congressional probe on the killings of drug suspects in an attempt stall the efforts of the administration. 

CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz said the same day that the constitutional body is alarmed by the spate of the killings and is considering its own probe on it.

In the latest count of the Philippine National Police, more than 50 drug suspects were killed two days before the SONA raising the number of slain drug suspects to 293 from July 1 to 24.  — RSJ/KBK, GMA News