The election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte constitutes the lowest point for the struggling Filipino democratic system. Duterte has used profanities against President Obama, the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Pope Frances, the United Nations and others who have questioned his blood-soaked reign as president. Recently, he even compared himself to Hitler in not only refusing to stop his extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals but saying that he was prepared like Hitler to murder millions. Now this budding tyrant has declared that the very concept of human rights is the “anti-thesis of government.” In reality it is Duterte who is pushing the Philippines back into a state of Nature where might is right and government is merely the dominion of the powerful over the powerless. What is particularly chilling is that Duterte is a lawyer and former prosecutor.
Duterte has ordered the killing of thousands and even personally tied to past murders from his time as a prosecutor. He told the audience of policewomen “[Don’t listen to] human rights (groups), because human rights is always the anti-thesis of government.” He has previously said “I don’t call about human rights.”
It is already clear that Duterte believes that the definition of “government” includes extrajudicial killings, authoritarian rule, and contempt for rule of law. However, he now maintains that government cannot by definition include the concept of human rights.
As an attorney, Duterte is an utter disgrace to our profession. As a national leader, he is little more than a profane, petty tyrant. The United States cannot simply ignore his murderous and despotic policies — no matter how important an ally the Philippines may be.