MANILA - The Palace on Monday hit back at former president Benigno Aquino III for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments about human rights during his State of the Nation Address.
Aquino hit Duterte for dismissing the criticism of rights activists on his war on drugs and saying that “your concern is human rights, mine is human lives."
"Puwede bang paghiwalayin iyun? Puwede bang wala kang karapatan na universal nga. Maski saang parte ng mundo, pare-pareho iyung basic rights," Aquino told reporters.
The Duterte administration has been heavily criticized for the drug war deaths, as well as the increasing number of slain journalists since the tough-talking leader assumed power.
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Aquino is not blameless for the current peace and order situation in the Philippines.
“I wish he did more also in protecting human lives because it is during his administration too that the UN (United Nations) also noticed that we are in breach of our obligation on the right to life, especially on the killing of journalists,” Roque said in press briefing.
“As former president, he shares partly in the blame for this culture of impunity.”
Roque also said Duterte is standing by his controversial statement and that there should be no argument about the value of human rights.
“The President goes by what he says. He’s pursuing the drug war because he values human lives,” Roque said in a press briefing.
“If the construction of many is that human life forms part of human rights, then so be it. That proves my point [that] the president is espousing, protecting, advancing human rights.”