Duterte’s tyrannical rule threatens the right to development

The United Nations defines the right to development as “an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”

However, Filipinos are now being bombarded daily with various forms of human rights abuses by President Duterte and his officials.

The children in Mindano are being deprived of the right to education because government troops are setting up camps in their schools and sowing terror among the people. The Elian Community Learning Center in Quezon, Bukidnon managed by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) was forced to close down since February 9 due to the military encampment in their community and accusing the residents of supporting the New Peple’s Army (NPA). The teachers also experience various forms of harassment and vilification. On February 7, Jolita Tolino, a Dulangan Manobo volunteer teaching at the CLANS (Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services) Lumad Community School at Sitio Chir is, Bgy. Sangay, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat was illegally arrested and detained by element of the Marine Batallion Landing Team 2 and 2 Barangay officials. She was interrogated several times, intimidated by 2 Marine officers, and subsequently imprisoned without due process.

The right of the indigenous peoples to self-determination is continually being violated with the encroachment of foreign capitalist businesses in their ancestral lands. On February 1, President Duterte announced that he will personally invite investors to the IP’s ancestral domains in Mindanao in order to create employment.  The President is sorely mistaken in thinking that the supposed jobs generated will ease the hunger experienced by the Lumad. He is denying the fact that landlessness and forced evacuation caused by militarization in IP communities is the primary root of their food insecurity.

The freedoms of expression and assembly are also being curtailed, with the recent passage of House Bill No. 6834 that imposes heavier penalties on unscheduled or unannounced rallies, namely, six months to six years imprisonment for mobilizations without notice to the mayor or those held outside the notice’s coverage.

The Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) also threatens the right of Filipinos’ to an adequate standard of living, since it inevitably results to the unabated increase in the prices of many goods and services, such as foodstuff, transport fares, and utility bills.

Gender-based violence has also become a norm with the President, especially with his command to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to shoot female New People’s Army in the vagina. His mere statement is a gross violation of women’s rights.

Even worse is the crackdown on activists and progressive organizations, alleging these to be “Communist fronts” has also resulted to the recent wave of killings among peasant and tribal leaders in rural areas. Almost 200 farmers were killed since he Duterte became President on June 2016.

His administration has failed to understand that genuine development happens when human rights are respected and enjoyed by the people, instead of being restricted. It is thus no wonder that rallies and walkouts are being staged regularly to protest the escalating rights abuses in the country. The President’s efforts to silence his critics are failing miserably and instead, their voices are growing louder with every human right violation he instigates.

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AscentPH is a national alliance of development organizations determinedly working for the empowerment of the people through poverty alleviation and promoting and defending the right to development and other fundamental human rights and freedoms.

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