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With Rodrigo Duterte gunning for the presidency on an anti-crime and corruption platform, human rights group Amnesty International said they are worried the mayor would openly violate human rights once he becomes president given his open support for tough measures against crime.

“There are no formal charges in court, but based on the records of the Commission on Human Rights which we also monitor, there are allegation of human rights violations against him,” Amnesty International Philippines (AIP) chair Ritz Lee Santos III told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

While AIP won’t campaign against any candidate, Santos said his group will educate the public on the need to respect human rights given the overwhelming support Duterte’s tough measures have elicited.

“This is not specific to the person, but we want to call people’s attention to the need for education and respect for human rights,” he said. “They have to understand that the right to life is inviolable and should not be abused at any opportunity. People ought to be educated that human rights is non-negotiable.”

Santos added there is a need to counter the popular notion that killing criminals is necessary to make the country safe and progressive — a concept popularized by Duterte.

“We are more alarmed about how the public has responded, and how the public believes a firm hand is needed in addressing crime,” he said. “Killing should not be made part of a bigger problem.”

AIP campaigner Wilnor Papa agreed.

“I understand why there’s a feeling of insecurity and feeling of desperation because of the state of crime,” he said. “But there are other solutions besides [killing] the criminal,” he said.

ANALYSIS

Unfortunately, if the Filipino culture is any indication, forgiveness, amnesty and lax of bite in law enforcement only serves to blunt the impact of punishment. For so long, any draconian enforcement of penalties and rule of law to the teeth has always been synonymous to Martial Law.

Indeed, a shock factor is often necessary to instill fear of the law, to emphasize there are consequences to face in a violation. And yet those who feel offended by this concept often compare it to the closest evil in their memory; Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law days.

Duterte pledges to bring back the death penalty for heinous crimes like what Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada did way back, and if people in power feel too sorry about giving wrongdoers their just desserts, they should ask themselves if they are indeed fit to be in power in the first place.

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