Human Rights in the Philippines: Finding the Path Back to Rationality


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A Dialogue on Human Rights and Democracy

Adamson University, Ermita, Manila

October 7, 2016

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

First of all, my apologies for being late. This was originally set for 1 o’clock, pero kahapon po I learned that there is going to be a committee hearing on the budget of the DOJ at 1 o’clock. I needed to be there because I wanted to express my support for the budget of my previous family, and that is the DOJ family.

At kahit nga ganito ang nangyayari ngayon, kahit nga ho masakit ang pakiramdam ko o nasasaktan ako na tila ba ginagamit yung DOJ as an institution, prostituting the DOJ as an institution, na nagiging weapon sa ongoing relentless vilification and demolition sa akin, ay mahal ko pa rin ang DOJ kaya I’m supporting the budget for the DOJ. That’s why I had to be there to express my support.

First of all, I would like to greet Fr. Aldrin Suan, Fr. Nonong Fajardo, Fr. Agustin Advincula, Ms. Grace Baral, Mr. Florante Garcia, the Adamson University St. Vincent School of Theology, Vincentian community, faculty, my dear students, magandang, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

And I congratulate Adamson for its recent win in the UAAP Basketball Men against UST. Wow. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

And I know that Adamson is the convenor, or the one which has spearheaded “Huwag kang Magnakaw” at “Huwag kang Papatay” movement. Dapat naman huwag kang papatay. And I know that everyone here, every soul in this hall agrees that killing is both immoral and illegal. May dissenter ba dito? None, because indeed killing is both immoral and illegal. There cannot be any justification for killing without due process.

So definitely, I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude for being invited to be part of this dialogue on human rights. It’s an honor to share with you my thoughts, as this is a very, very close advocacy of mine. It’s so close to my heart. That’s why I had to initiate that Senate inquiry into the spate of killings. And that’s what started all these major, massive demolition campaign against me.

Talaga naman pong ikinagagalak ko ang linggong ito. For the past weeks you couldn’t imagine what I was feeling. I was exploding inside. No words can describe exactly what I feel diyan sa mga ginagawa nila sa akin ngayon.

But, noong Wednesday, ay nakasama ko po yung mga grupo ng mga kababaihan. Nagkaroon ng CHR forum on the women’s rights, an expression of strong protest, condemnation of the slut shaming that they have resorted to against the perceived archenemy of the highest official of the land.

Kahapon naman, nakasama yung mga estudyante ng St. Scholastica’s College Manila, at nakita natin ang kamalayan at pagtutol din nila, katulad din ninyo, sa mga nangyayari sa ating bayan.

At ngayon naman, narito po ako, kasama kayo, para talakayin ang usapin ng karapatang pantao, bilang napakahalagang pundasyon ng ating demokrasya.

Pansin ko lang: iba talaga ang suporta at sigla ng kabataan, isama na rin natin ang mga “feeling young.” I do feel young. Sa tuwing nakakasama ko kayo, lalo kong nadarama because akala ko po, nung past few weeks, nag-iisa lang ako. Hindi pala po ako nag-iisa. Muli, maraming, maraming salamat sa inyo.

Maraming paraan para ilarawan ang kalagayan ng karapatang pantao sa ating bansa sa mga panahong ito.

We could describe it first by citing statistics.  Halimbawa, ayon sa Philippine National Police[1]:

3,684 na, o mga tatlumpu’t walong (38) tao kada araw, ang napatay kaugnay ng kampanya laban sa droga ng Pangulong Duterte mula a-uno ng Hulyo.

And as of October, it’s the latest figure, I think it was yesterday (October 6), 1,390 “drug personalities” were killed in police operations.

While, 2,294 (October 3) were victims of extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.

So almost 40 persons a day, and everyday, wala pong araw na walang nire-report na mayroong namamatay o mayroong pinapatay—either in the course of purportedly legitimate police operations or just victims of vigilante-style of killings.

Up to this very day, we still do not really know who are responsible for those vigilante-style killings, although we have several theories in respect to that.

Yun sana ang gusto nating malaman diyan sa ongoing Senate inquiry, kaya lang every twist and turn na lang diyan sa ongoing inquiry, tila ba nahihirapan po kami, nahihirapan po ako to really establish those facts.

We could also get insight into the aspects of the human rights situation that cannot be captured by sheer number by reading from the transcript of the exploitation film-esque drama that is being staged at the House of Representatives—the ongoing House inquiry.

Siguro kayo mismo, I think some of you or many of you, ay napapanood din po paminsan-minsan yung ongoing charade na nangyayari diyan sa House inquiry where individual’s rights to privacy and security are thrown out the window, right along with women’s rights, which are repeatedly raped, strangled and mangled to death, and abandoned like a piece of meat by certain members of the House of Representatives who are unapologetically insensitive, uncaring and ignorant of women’s issues, including the real problem of slut-shaming.

Mayroon pa nga isa diyan hindi daw niya alam na there is such a term or there is such a concept as slut-shaming. And these are lawmakers.

For those who don’t know what exploitation films are, because I call that exploitation films, yung drama, yung kangaroo court po na yan, they are films that “attempt to succeed financially by exploiting current trends, niche genres, or lurid content.”

In other words, the old explicit sex, sensational violence, drug use, nudity and extremely shocking language and profanity formula. That is the formula being adopted in the ongoing vilification against me.

However, whereas most exploitation films usually use graphic sex, violence and extreme language to substitute for real plot and thought-provoking issues, the kangaroo proceedings in the House of Representatives is much more nefarious and devious.

It doesn’t seek to hide the absence of a plot, but the existence of a truly disturbing one: the lengths that a narcissist with ironic Messianic delusions will go through in order to hide the fact that thousands of people have died—and more are dying every day, many under suspicious and, some, even plainly murderous circumstances—just to achieve a very narrow end. The end is personal vendetta.

This. This is the real problem behind the human rights situation in the Philippines. Don’t be fooled. The personalities don’t matter. Even I, in the greater scheme of things, I don’t matter. The issue is much bigger than me. I don’t want them to make me larger than life.

I only matter because I, as a single, female Senator, have had the guts to stand true to my vow of protecting and upholding our people’s human rights.  Without fear or favor. That’s always been my campaign slogan, “Justice without fear or favor”.

Now, I only matter under the current scheme of things because by doing so, by initiating that inquiry, I have incurred the ire of a President who has absolutely no qualms about publicly shaming an elected female public servant, and abetting, if not orchestrating, the continuing fabrication of lies in the House of Representatives—all just to gratify his personal vendetta and other insidious and selfish desires of his.

In other words, like Harry Potter, I became the “Boy Who Lived” or the “Chosen One” because Voldermort chose me. Siguro naman may mga avid fans dito ni Harry Potter.

It is not, as my detractors would paint it: Sex, Lies and Videotape. This relentless, vicious, underhanded, malicious and intentionally destructive campaign being waged against me by the President, All the President’s Men, and the sinister puppet master—or mistress—behind all of them is but the ripples on the surface.

What do I mean by that? It only hints at the struggle that is happening underneath. They paint it that way to hide the real clash that they don’t want people to closely examine: that people’s rights, and their very lives are being callously forfeited as a means to an end.

It is about a largely unquestioned, untested, unexplored and undebated clash in moral philosophies or, worse, the utter lack thereof.

I say that it is “largely” so because, in these halls, and in front of this audience of young people, including the audience of dedicated theologists and philosophers, I am sure that it is plenty explored, questioned, tested and debated.

But, unfortunately, not out there in society at large. Not in Facebook, Twitter and Youtube comment sections. Sa totoo lang, mas marami pa nga sigurong mas malalim na diskurso among 14-year-olds on Tumblr about plot and character analyses in the Harry Potter fandom kaysa sa diskurso tungkol sa nangyayari sa ating bansa sa Facebook. And when I say diskurso, yung tunay na diskurso—hindi yung mga kabalastugan, mga pagmumura, yang mga culture of hatred in Facebook.

There, the battle lines are drawn so “sophisticatedly”, “eloquently”, “elegantly” and with such “depth” between “Yellowtards”? and “Dutertards”?Of course, when I say sophisticatedly, eloquently, and depth, I mean it in the #SarcasmButton sense.

Yes, “hashtag Sarcasm Button” is a thing because people can’t tell the difference between humorously phrased criticism and sincerely moronic thinking anymore.  As someone on Twitter once posted, “Maybe we’ve been living #sarcasmbutton all year long and just don’t know it yet #2016.”

Yes, 2016 has been surreal.  Absurdly so.

Ewan ko kung nararamdaman ninyo ito pero, minsan, after the President or one of the President’s men utter one more of their outrageous statements, I half expect someone to jump out, point to a hidden camera and say, “Wow! Mali!” or “You have been Punk’d” or, for the older generation, “Smile, you’re on candid camera!”

Yan na po ngayon ang surrealism. Oo, minsan naiisip ko, mas may sense kung iisipin this has been one huge practical joke. Because the alternative is too disturbing.

Dahil kung papaniwalaan natin ang ating mahal na Pangulo nung sinabi niya sa SONA siguro yun, human rights is a weapon of mass destruction because it can be “used” to destroy our nation.  Human rights destroying our nation! Saan nanggaling yun? Is this still our planet? Think about this, to him, not only are human rights of secondary importance—if even that—he actually sees it as a hindrance. An inconvenience.

Kailan pa naging hindrance, kalian pa naging inconvenience ang karapatang pantao? Eh ang Constitution po natin napakaganda. Tayo po ang meron lang constitution na ang daming provisions tungkol sa human rights. And we’re so proud about that after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. I-compare niyo yan kahit sa US Constitution, kahit sa mga European Constitution, hindi po ganyan ang pagtrato sa human rights. We revere, we value, we cherish human rights and it’s perfectly reflected in our Constitution. Inconvenience daw.

Eh di wow.

He is basically saying that he, in all his Messianic—or should I say narcissistic wisdom—only he has the right and the power to brush away all the promises and guarantees made in our Constitution, even though that fundamental document was ratified by the mandate of the Filipino people through an overwhelming 76.3 percent affirmative votes out of total votes cast[2]—compared to his much flaunted mandate of around 38.5 percent during the May elections.[3] The mandate of the people on for our Constitution is 76.3 percent.

The Filipino people are idiots daw. He is wise. The best thing we can do is to stop thinking for ourselves, be silent, and meekly follow him. Blindly. To the precipice and beyond. Because he is wise and all-seeing, and we are but ignorant sheep that need his guidance to be divided and led to either salvation or slaughter.


He, in all his glory, has the right to say who is human and who is not. Para sa mahal na Pangulo, hindi tao ang mga napapatay dahil sila ay mga kriminal, sila ay mga drug pusher, sila ay mga drug addict. Kaya sinasabi how can the President daw…you know, one of his subaltern say, how can the President daw be held liable for crimes against humanity dahil yung mga kriminal naman daw, yung mga drug addict naman daw are not part of humanity. Ganun ang sinabi. So what are they part of, the animal kingdom?

Really, who died and made him king? Well, so far about 3,400—no, it’s no longer 3,400, yung sinabi ko po kanina—3,684 people have died. Without a trial.  Again, many under suspicious, if not outright murderous circumstances. Is that the answer?  He thinks and acts like he’s the king—no, a god—therefore, he is? What an unfortunate and shameful perversion of one of the most famous lines in all of Philosophy, which was meant to help people find the truth and meaning in their existence.

In truth, he’s affirming the consequent: they are dead, therefore they must have been criminals and, hence, not human.

Besides, the hypocrisy is stomach-churningly apparent. The people they are labeling “criminals” may very well be innocent, or some of them, yet they are found guilty nonetheless. And by that simple means of labeling, their lives are deemed forfeit.

Yet. Yet, those who have been judicially adjudged as criminals are now being paraded before the public as the fountain of truth, bolstered by an alleged sex video that these perverted Dirty Old Men are salivating over.  Wow.  Amazing. Yung mga inaakusahan nila na may plot daw to assassinate the President are now their BFFs.

The truth of the matter is, we are either being run by wannabe, amateur utilitarians, or amoral persons. Amoral persons.  I honestly can’t decide which is worse.

If it’s the former, they are trying to stand on the shoulders of the likes of Lenin.  In Joseph Fletcher’s book, he:

“…tells the story of Lenin who had become weary of being told that he had no ethics…”—I think you know Lenin, right. Soviet Union. Lenin—“…After all, he used a very pragmatic and utilitarian philosophy to force communism on the people. So some of those around him accused him of believing that the end justifies the means. Finally, Lenin shot back, “If the end does not justify the means, then in the name of sanity and justice, what does?”

And here are our so-called leaders, thinking “Well, that didn’t work the first time.  Sure, millions of people died. But that’s because they had weak leaders. I know better, so let’s try that again.”

It’s a callous social experiment that we did not sign up for.  And, worse, they are ill-equipped to so recklessly put it into practice.

They have not even considered unintended consequences.  The death of innocent people. The number of children who are orphaned by the act of a government who have not even thought about what would happen to them after their purge?

They’ve ignored the indubitable truth that it’s impossible to know all of the potential outcomes of a particular decision. But, perhaps, they don’t care, because that’s the problem other people, and later generations, would suffer and solve. Do you think they care about the present and the future?

In the terms of the classic utilitarian dilemma, they are harvesting organs from the few in order to bring happiness to the many. That’s their justification, philosophical justification. They are but a step from suggesting that enslaving a few is acceptable for it brings greater utility for the greater number. Alam po natin yan, dear professors.

In fact, they’re already suggesting that the fact that the war on drug is, in practice, a war that is heavily and disproportionately being waged against the poor. May duda pa ho ba dun, di ho ba? Halos naman lahat, yung talagang walang kalaban-laban. Powerless, defenseless, poorest of the poor, marginalized, vulnerable, yung mga nasa slums, depressed communities—who are statistically the demographic to which an overwhelming majority of the victims belong—is just a fact we have to deal with.

Yun ang kanilang pag-iisip. Really? In which country and which century is that acceptable?As the lyrics to one song goes—I don’t know how to sing this—“When you find yourself in a compromising spot, you should know, you shouldn’t take all that dog food that they make.” Per my notes, that’s from Eraserheads. Again, the line in the song: “When you find yourself in a compromising spot, you should know, you shouldn’t take all that dog food that they make.”

It is one thing for fiction like Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War—sinong mga fans din dito ng Captain America?—to explore the contrast between narcissistic utilitarianism and pure deontological reasoning[4]. It is completely another to trash our Constitution, and burn our nation to the ground.

On the other hand, if it turns out that we are being led by amoral, sociopathic people, the question becomes: how do you trust people without a moral or social compass?  Simple: you can’t.  You don’t. You don’t trust. You ought not to trust them.

I truly do believe that these so-called leaders—these perverts, misogynists of obsolete thinking—are just praying that the people are too stupid, or too preoccupied by sex videos to tell or care about the difference.

But this is why I am so happy to have had this opportunity to speak before you, before this kind of audience. I have such deep respect for the discipline of philosophy and theology that I actually found it very difficult to restrain myself from turning this speech into a dissertation in defense of Pilosopo Tasyo as the most criminally underappreciated, under-explored and unheralded key character in Gat Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. Father, hindi ho ba, si Pilosopo Tasyo.

“Siya na tinaguriang baliw, ulol, at tampulan ng panlilibak ng kanyang mga kababayan dahil di nila matarok ang lalim ng kanyang pag-iisip—siya ang bayaning kailangan ng bayan.

Siya ang Pilipinong nag-iisip, hindi sumusunod lamang sa kumpas ng mga malalakas at maimpluwensya sa lipunan.

Siya ang may sariling paninindigan, at hindi natitinag kahit siya ay alipustahin ng iba dahil sa kanyang integridad.”

He is the hero, the kind of hero we need, but the hero we don’t deserve if we can’t even recognize his wisdom, let alone his worth. Only in the Philippines will the word “pilosopo” be considered derogatory. It’s only in the Philippines that it’s considered derogatory, the word “pilosopo”.

But I call on you to be part of the fight to make Pilosopo Tasyo relevant. To make people see his worth in the current times. Be the voice and faces of reason. Urge people to be awake, to think, to reason, to speak, to fight.

A well-meaning supporter once lamented that, when a strong woman speaks, she comes off shrill and bossy. We hear a woman say things that actually make sense and force us to think, yet we call it nagging. We hear a woman voice her opinions, it comes off as bitchy. Whereas, when a man speaks with authority, no matter how illogical his reasoning, he comes off as a strong leader.

Yes, it’s extremely offensively sexist. Fine. That’s one fight women like me would have to deal with. But, for the sake of these pressing issues, the solution is simple: let it not be just my voice.

Why make it about my views and opinions? As I said, I don’t want people to make me larger than life. I’m just a simple human being, I’m a simple woman, and I’m a simple elected Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.

This is not my fight alone. This is the fight for the future and the moral fiber of our people and our future generations.

You can lead that fight, you, young people, because this is a battle that must be waged in people’s minds.

Before it becomes too late. It is already too late for the 3,684 people who have already died. But perhaps there is still time to salvage our moral and social values before they are irretrievably or irrevocably corrupted.

Ika nga ni Pilosopo Tasyo, “Ang bayan po’y di dumaraing dahil siya’y pipi, di tumitinang dahil natutulog. Subali’t darating ang panahong malalantad ito sa inyo at mapapakinggan ang kanyang mga panaghoy. Pagsapit ng araw na ito,… sasambulat sa lahat ng dako ang mga naipong luha; himutok at buntong-hiningang matagal na panahong kinimkim sa puso ng bayan.” Imagine, si Pilosopo Tasyo yan na walang nakikinig noon.

I’ve always wondered why logical reasoning is considered a secondary, even tertiary skill, most often taught in college. I’ve always thought that it should be a basic skill that should be taught to everyone.

Ika nga ng isa pang karakter sa nobela ni Gat Jose Rizal, “Walang mapapala ang anak ng mga magbubukid sa paaralan, kung bumabasa, sumusulat at nagsasaulo sila ng mga bagay sa wikang Kastila na hindi naman nila nauunawaan.”

Adapted to modern times, with the availability of ubiquitous information, it’s time to stop thinking that learning by rout and memorization is the way of true education and knowledge. What is important is a real capacity for understanding and active reasoning.

For that is the basis of a strong democracy. Not the mere fact that we vote for our leaders, but because our leaders know that they can’t feed us bull crap and get away with it.

What is the point of the few of us knowing why an argumentum ad hominem is a fallacy, when the greater majority can be made to swallow it anyway?

We need people like you, professors and students, to lead us to that strong democracy. One that is not led from the top, but from the bottom.

I guess the one thought that I want to leave with you today—because I know my time is up—as we discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines, it is the lesson that we can’t teach kids that human rights is important just by telling them that it is.

They have to see it for themselves—hopefully in discussions and fora like these. Kasi nagagalak po ako mayroon pa raw pong mga iba pang campus tour fora. Hopefully in discussions, in fora like this, as I was saying, the children, the young people, have to see for themselves what exactly is human rights—not through the traumatic experience of watching your parents, your brothers, your sons, or your grandfather be butchered before your eyes.

Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.



[3] winners-presidential- election

[4] Credit to C. Clark at and

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