SINCE the start of the Duterte administration, the international community has trained its eyes on the Philippines. There was a war to be fought, and the new president was employing an unconventional way to accomplish the task.
The global audience is aghast that President Rodrigo Duterte prefers a manner that involves the violation of human rights of those he suspects to be involved in the use, or trade, or both, of illegal drugs. The numbers vary but the consensus is that thousands have been killed either through police operations where the suspects evaded arrest or tried to wrest control of the firearm, or through vigilante killings. This even as administration officials insist the numbers have been distorted.
Lawful arrest and a fair trial seem to be roundabout ways to achieve immediate results.
Mr. Duterte’s public demeanor and pronouncement suggest he encourages such extrajudicial methods. He has spoken about how the suspects are a menace to society, how they threaten our children’s future and how they should be wiped out in big numbers. He has assured the police of his support as they go after these drug suspects.
And for his critics, domestic and foreign, he only has fighting words.
At last week’s conference on human rights at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said there was no state-sponsored killing in the Philippines, and that there is no sudden wave of killings.
Notwithstanding these assurances, 45 out of 47 nations expressed concern over the conduct of the war on drugs here, called on Mr. Duterte to end the killings and withdraw the plan to revive the death penalty.
The President has responded to these international calls with resentment. Even the presence of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard was roundly criticized by his supporters; Callamard herself was even subjected to personal insults from supposedly enlightened individuals.
Sure, the drug problem is a domestic problem, and the solutions are domestic, as well. But what all these tell us is that we cannot exist in isolation and ignore what the community of nations has to say. This is exactly why such forums exist. Openness to the opinion of others is not subservience. It is a way to evaluate whether we are doing the right things, and whether we are doing the right things right.