On the occasion of the Duterte administration’s completion of its first 60 days in office, we, the members of the University of the Philippines Diliman University Council, express our grave concern over certain policies and practices adopted by President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, particularly with regard to his war on drugs, human rights, and his peace and order strategies.
We wish to emphasize that we find a good number of his key initiatives laudable and deserving of the public’s support. These include his pro-poor policy statements, his promise to put Filipino interests first in our foreign relations, his moves to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and to grant amnesty to political prisoners, his peace overtures to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), his pronouncements on prioritizing health and education, his plans for more development outside of Manila and its environs, and his call for government officials to practice simple living.
At the same time, however, we are deeply alarmed by President Duterte’s professed disregard for human rights, and his tolerance if not promotion of a climate of impunity in his approach to the war on drugs, which has already extrajudicially claimed more than 2,000 lives. We also object to his support for the interment of the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which betrays a lack of historical appreciation and an insensitivity toward the millions of Filipinos who suffered under martial rule.
We believe that government leaders at all levels must be prime examples for everyone, especially our youth, to emulate. We expect them to observe the highest standards of accountability, transparency, honor, and excellence in public service, and of decency and fairness in their public decorum. We expect the military and police to protect the people, to observe due process, to respect human rights and civil liberties, and to uphold the Constitution at all time. We expect all three branches of government to acknowledge and respect each other’s roles while striving for the common good. We expect our public officials to understand and to address key concerns in our national development, including climate change, women’s rights, education, and good governance.
We strongly urge the Duterte administration to take cognizance of these concerns and to institute corrective measures that will set our ship of state aright as it ventures forward.
In issuing this statement, the UP academic community affirms and maintains its traditional role as the public critic of any administration, voicing its support or opposition when necessary in pursuit of peace, justice, democracy, and prosperity for all Filipinos.
This statement was approved by the University Council at its meeting on September 5, 2016 at the NISMED Auditorium, UP Diliman. The University Council is composed of regular faculty members with ranks of Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors.