Human Rights is the very essence of Man’s Humanity

“No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights… they are what makes a man human. Deny them and you deny man’s humanity.” — Jose W. Diokno


I refer to the utterly controversial and undeniably impertinent statement by Mr. Duterte which he said during his State of the Nation Address yesterday.

With full of braggadocio and false pride he stated that:

“Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.”

Even a person of modest education will definitely cringe and feel so sorry for such a pronouncement by virtue of the inescapable fact that such statement is fallacious on the ground of either a false dichotomy or a misnomer!

Indeed, this at best is a misnomer at worst, the heights of contradiction!

How the hell Mr. Duterte is going to defend the lives of the people, if he is not going to defend, uphold, protect, cherish and fight for their rights?

Based on my reading it seems that the “writer” or spin-doctors of Malacanan is more interested in rhetoric and crafting speeches that rhyme not undeniably logically invalid! The primordial and central question in all of this is: How can you separate human rights from human lives? Can we separate the question of human worth from that of human dignity?

Hell no!

For in truth and in fact: violating human rights means sacrificing human lives and bastardizing their humanity.

What human lives is he talking about? Is he referring to those 15k or 20k that had already died?

Mr. Duterte is talking in contradiction; well the sad truth is that: he is the greatest contradiction now in the lives of the whole of the Filipino people!

I know it futile and indeed hopeless for Mr. Duterte, but for our people let me remind them of their rights based on the Constitution and International Law.

The 1987 Constitution (which the evil forces of the evil empire wishes to amend) specifically provided in Article 3, Bill of Rights, Section 1 that:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

Further, the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) expressly provided on Article 3 that:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

I know for a fact that Mr. Duterte wishes to do away with the fundamental law, but until such Charter is in operation; he has no choice but to try and even pretend to respect it.

Further, I also know that he abhor and disregard the international community, its norms, convention and rules; but same with our internal constitution; he has no choice but to abide by the provision of that international law by virtue of that fact that we are one of the early signatory to the said Declaration.

He cannot say based on his tantrums and bloody antics that: “Oh, it is not my signature, I will unsign it and we will withdraw from the said convention.”

To do so would lead us to be tag as a pariah before the eyes of the international community of nations.

Fighting fire with fire

One commentator, Mr. Vic Eclar Romero said the following:

“The right response to Duterte’s “Your concern is human rights. My concern is human lives. “

“”You don’t care about human lives; you have killed thousands and imprisoned thousands more.”

“Logic is not the tool to respond to an unthinking person who acts from the unconscious layer of his mind.

“Only raw gut feelings can counter raw gut feelings.”

Though I agree superficially to his irrational view, I vehemently disagree on the moral dimension of his contention.

Here’s my reply to him:

So, what do you want us to do? Are you suggesting that because Mr. Duterte is no thinking and unthinking we resorted to mudslinging and illogical antics the same way are his fanatics are known for?

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that:

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Those who are struggling and fighting against Mr. Duterte’s monstrosity and inhumanity, must never ever abandon both the ethical aspect and moral sphere of this battle. We must not be like him, because in the end, if we will resort to his evil and nefarious methods: then what the hell would be the difference between us and him and his cohorts?

On the question of raw feelings

There is always a time for everything and a reckoning point. This is an inexorable law of both life and history! In the stirring words of Professor Christine M. Korsgaard:

The moment of revolution is a vindication of morality, and so of our humanity.  We are masters of our own self-mastery, in control of our self-control.  Being human is not sapping our strength, for we still know when to fight.  The revolutionary does not become strong and free when he picks his gun.  Instead, he proves to us that he’s been free all along.  It is because the laws of morality are his own laws that he is finally prepared to fight for them.  The doubt created by the antimony is dispelled.  Revolution teaches us nothing but what we have known all along: that the good and the free person are one and the same. (‘Kant on the Right to Revolution’, in Reclaiming the History of Ethics, 1997, p. 323)


Jose Mario Dolor De Vega


Philosophy Instructor

Department of Philosophy and Humanities

College of Arts and Letters

Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Sta. Mesa, Manila