Amnesty International is the latest organization to join the the anti-Duterte bandwagon, which is largely fueled by misleading information being peddled by the President’s political enemies and his critics in the Philippines.
Their affiliate in the United Kingdom has launched a “Philippines: Stop Encouraging Murder” campaign on its website, and has been sending out emails that ask people to call on the government “to stop sanctioning murder and to protect the right to life for all citizens.”
But what AI fails to do, despite their lofty claims of putting a premium on research in connection with the actions that they take, is to present clear proof that it is in fact the Philippine Government, or more specifically President Duterte, who is behind these “murders.”
They creatively try to imply that Duterte is linked to the killings, but in the end the most even they can say is that he is “seemingly encouraging the police to kill.” While this is far from a conclusive indictment of the President, for AI and his critics, it is more than enough to accuse him of mass murder.
AI is also guilty of purposely ignoring Duterte’s numerous pronouncements where he unequivocally says that he does not sanction extrajudicial killings. With this omission, AI is creating a perception of the Philippines that is inimical to the interest of Filipinos. They are falsely presenting an image of a country on the verge of chaos, when in fact the exact opposite is true. For the first time, we have a leader that understands the needs of the people and is responding accordingly.
This is not to say that Duterte is perfect. He has a lot of rough edges, especially when measured against the polished leaders of the western world. But the Philippines, despite the affectations of the minority in the country who are rich, is actually still very rough as well.
And this is what AI and these international organizations fails to take into consideration in their over-the-top criticism of Duterte. They forget that the Philippines is merely going through a period in our history which the United States and Europe also went through during their formative years. A period of violent lawlessness that was solved, not by evoking universal human rights at every turn, but by tougher enforcement of the law.
And this isn’t even counting the medieval and wild west periods of western history. Just looking at the events of the past century, there are more than enough examples of similar methods being used to embarrass even the most vocal critics from the west.
But just as it was a necessary period for their growth as a nation, so it is with the Philippines now. The only difference is that when they went through it, they did not have global media and other nations looking over their shoulders saying – “you can’t do that,” “that’s not right,” “we do not approve.”
Instead of all this finger-wagging and self-serving outrage, what Filipinos need from AI and all those who insist on meddling in the Philippines’ affairs is a genuine effort to understand what we are going through and what help we need. Not what help they insist on forcing down our throats.
They also have to understand that the crusade to stop the epidemic-like spread of illegal drugs in the country, while controversial, is just one of the problems Filipinos are going through as a nation. There is also poverty, corruption, traffic, being unprepared for natural calamities, the communist and Muslim insurgencies, etc, etc, etc. And each must be taken in context with the whole.
By taking this to heart, and listening less to the empty, strident voices of those whose only legitimate grievance is their loss of power and entitlement, AI may yet salvage its credibility and live up to its core values of “impartiality and independence, and democracy and mutual respect.”