Human rights advocates hold anti-Duterte protest in front of UN headquarters in New York

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 24 2020 12:03 AM

NEW YORK CITY - President Rodrigo Duterte was not physically present at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the UN General Assembly, but it did not stop human rights activists from protesting against the Philippine president's speech.

For the first time, Duterte addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly from the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, members of the Malaya Movement and other Filipinos launched an anti-Duterte protest in front of the UN headquarters.

"We want to demand and ensure that the rights and human rights of the Filipino people are respected and protected...We know that the real human rights situation in the Philippines is far from what Duterte had presented in his speeches," Julie Jamora of Malaya Movement said.

While Duterte's call for COVID-19 vaccine for all is welcomed by many, protesters said Duterte's denial and rewriting of the deteriorating COVID-19 and human rights situation in the Philippines must be called out.

"I am outraged by President Rodrigo Duterte speech at the UN General Assembly in today's speech...How can an international global solidarity movement put the blame for the killings of Filipino people when these people have died under your presidency look in the mirror this blood you speak of is on your hands," Jonathan Saturay of the International Coalition For Human Rights in the Philippines said.

"Nandito siya sa tingin namin (He was here in our opinion) to save his face, pero (but) instead of 'yun nga, saving his face, we heard more lies and hypocrisy from his speech, he said he abides by the Human Rights mechanisms of the UN, yet he continues to threaten UN Special Rapporteur at the same time tagging one of its rapporteur as a terrorist," Yves Nibungco of Malaya Movement added.

"While he so obviously failed in that fight -- the covid cases are not going down in the Philippines and he hasn't actually treated the pandemic with any medical or scientific solution instead he's just use it as a justification to militarize the whole country basically de facto martial law," Nina Macapinlac of Bayan USA said.

Jane Orenadain was among the anti-Marcos dictatorship protesters at the US Congress in the late 1970s. She said, one way to look at Duterte's speech at the UN is to treat it like a Marcos speech in the 70s.

"We should not so much listen to what he is saying at rather look at what he is doing you know he can say whatever he wants but if he's doing saying wonderful things on the right on the right side and then on the left side he's killing people," she said.

"It doesn't matter what he says pay attention so to what he's doing," Orendain added.

Duterte expressed openness and cooperation with the international body when it comes to the alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Protesters said, let the investigations begin.