MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday urged Filipinos to stand for their rights amid persistent threats against freedom of speech and the right to life.
In her message ahead of Sunday's commemoration of Human Rights Day, Robredo, an opposition leader, spoke of alleged killings, supposed suppression of freedom of speech, and still prevalent poverty that continues to grip the country.
"Hinahamon ng kasalukuyang panahon ang bawat isa sa atin na paigtingin ang paninindigan para sa karapatang pantao, sa harap ng pinagdaan ng Pilipino nitong nakalipas na taon," Robredo said in her message.
(The times are challenging us to strengthen our stand to uphold human rights despite what the Filipino has gone through this past year.)
"Kasama na rito ang mga extrajudicial killings; ang pagsupil sa karapatang magpahayag, pati na sa social media; at ang kahirapan na patuloy na pumipilay sa milyun-milyon nating mga kababayan," she said.
(These include extrajudicial killings; the suppression of freedom of speech, even in social media; and poverty that continues to cripple millions of Filipinos.)
Robredo said Human Rights Day should be an occasion for Filipinos to underscore the importance of human rights, especially for the poor and the marginalized.
"Nawa’y maging pagkakataon ang ating pagdiriwang ngayon ng Araw ng Karapatang Pantao para muling paigtingin ang ating determinasyon na maging isang lipunan na tunay na kinikilala at isinasabuhay ang paggalang sa dignidad, kalayaan, at karapatan ng bawat Pilipino," the Vice President said.
(May this occasion be an opportunity for us to once again intensify our determination to become a society that truly recognizes the need to respect dignity, freedom, and the rights of every Filipino.)
The Vice President's message notably avoided blame, but she has many times condemned alleged killings and rights abuses under the administration's fierce anti-drug campaign.
Earlier, Robredo became a target of online bashing and fake news after she criticized the spate of killings during police operations against suspected drug users.
Last year, she was removed from the Cabinet over "irreconcilable differences" between her and President Rodrigo Duterte.
The administration has many times defended the drug war, saying it does not sanction summary killings or condone police abuses.
Some 3,800 drug suspects have died in police operations since Duterte came to power in July 2016, per official figures. Authorities said those slain had put up violent resistance, prompting police to shoot.
Human rights groups estimate the death toll in the anti-narcotics campaign at 10,000, but the administration has said this figure is overblown.