An illusion and a fraud

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
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The argument that such values as human rights and the right to life are alien to Asian culture and impositions from the West, is not new. But not since the martial law period (1972-1986) and only recently has any Filipino functionary or politician demanded that other countries refrain from criticism of the policies and acts of the Philippine government on precisely that basis.

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Clueless in Brussels

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IN THE COURSE of his visit to several European countries, President Benigno Aquino III rejected, during a forum in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, what he called “blanket statements”—and proceeded to make some blanket statements of his own.

Mr. Aquino was responding to the claims of protesters and some forum participants that human rights violations including extrajudicial killings have been continuing during his administration despite his 2010 campaign promise to put a stop to them, and that the government’s counter-insurgency program endangered people’s rights and lives.

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No bragging rights for Aquino

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PRESIDENT Benigno Simeon Aquino III is leaving for several European countries this Sunday, September 13, during which he’s expected to enhance those countries’ support for the Philippine position in its dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Having just submitted to Congress the draft of the long-awaited Bangsamoro Basic Law, Mr. Aquino is also likely to brag before the leaders of Spain, Germany, France, and Belgium how he has made peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

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Deeds v. words in Aquino’s fun place

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THE Aquino administration says it’s for press freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of information. It’s supposedly part of its commitment to transparency and the straight and narrow path (tuwid na daan) of governance. Since 2011, however, both its actions and inaction have been speaking louder than its words.

Shortly after Mr. Aquino came to power in 2010, there was some hope that, because of his election promise to respect press freedom and to protect human rights, he would address the urgent need to speed up the trial of the accused planners and implementers of the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre. Representatives of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) coalition met with Mr. Aquino’s subordinates in the Department of Justice and the Presidential Communications Operations Office to discuss what the administration could do not only to speed up the trial if that was possible, but also to make sure that the killers of journalists would be prosecuted.

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Impossible

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NOTHING is impossible, said President Benigno Aquino III last Monday during his third State of the Nation Address, while demonstrating in the same speech that certain things are just not possible in an Aquino SONA.

Apparently it’s not possible for Mr. Aquino to mention “Human Rights violations,” “extrajudicial killings,” “Freedom of Information,” “Ampatuan Massacre,” “the killing of journalists” or even “Reproductive Health” in his address. And it’s probably not because of the limitations of his vocabulary.

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