Us­ing ‘hu­man rights’ for geopol­i­tics

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - CARMEN N. PEDROSA

On other pro­vi­sions the lack of an en­abling law works against the peo­ple’s in­ter­est in the hur­riedly made 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion. Pro­vi­sions which re­quire an en­abling law man­gled the sovereignty of the peo­ple by mak­ing it sub­ject to an en­abling act by Con­gress. So in one sense the ar­gu­ment against the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights for a lack of an en­abling law jus­ti­fies the P1K bud­get.

But did you know that the same thing hap­pened to the Peo­ple’s Ini­tia­tive to amend or re­vise the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion which the Supreme Court said had no en­abling law. I had to dig up records in Con­gress to find that there was an en­abling law. It was filed by then Con­gress­man Raul Roco and ap­proved when Cory’s term was about to end. It was marked ur­gent to be ready for a peo­ple’s ini­tia­tive to al­low Cory to run again.

So the need for an en­abling law was used for pro­vi­sions that the con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sion then had ei­ther no time to de­bate or did not want de­bated. It is said that Pres­i­dent Cory was afraid it would bring up the is­sue of Ha­cienda Luisita.

On the CHR con­tro­versy I am more con­cerned on how this com­mis­sion is be­ing used as a geopo­lit­i­cal tool against Pres­i­dent Duterte’s war on drugs by his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies. In his book “Hu­man rights as Pol­i­tics and Idola­try,” Michael Ig­nati­eff writes on how hu­man rights can also be used by stronger Western coun­tries to in­ter­vene in the gov­er­nance of weaker coun­tries.

“Ig­nati­eff also makes a good ar­gu­ment for es­tab­lish­ing lim­its on the scope of in­ter­na­tion­ally pro­tected hu­man rights, con­tend­ing that overzeal­ous in­ter­ven­tion­ism can erode the le­git­i­macy of in­ter­na­tional norms. His learned, nim­ble anal­y­sis traces the fine line between the rights of states and those of cit­i­zens, and how the hu­man rights move­ment should best walk that line,” writes Gara La­marche in his re­view of the book.

The Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights is a pres­i­den­tial com­mit­tee. Only Con­gress can change it to be a le­gal en­tity.

Hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions have been used to over­throw lead­ers of coun­tries in Asia and the Mid­dle East. I think that CHR’s cam­paign against “teens be­ing killed” in Pres­i­dent Duterte’s war against drugs is sus­pected to be such a plot. Duterte’s rad­i­cal for­eign pol­icy to be in­de­pen­dent did not please the United States. There is a con­nec­tion between al­leged hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and his gov­ern­ment’s for­eign pol­icy. This can be gleaned from the pat­tern of events since Duterte be­came Pres­i­dent.

Seen from this light, Con­gress is right in send­ing a mes­sage to those who man the CHR. It must not be used against our gov­ern­ment in its pur­suit of the well-be­ing of the Filipino na­tion. Most of the com­ments from out­siders are not even aware of the facts of cases but just par­rot what they read in some main­stream me­dia. Each case must be taken up in­di­vid­u­ally and not grouped as an at­tack on Duterte’s gov­er­nance in be­half of a for­eign gov­ern­ment in part­ner­ship with the Lib­eral Party’s ob­jec­tive to top­ple the Duterte gov­ern­ment.

Worse if it is true that it was the CHR which brought in UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur Cal­la­mard to speak against Duterte’s war on drugs.

Ac­cord­ing to Bobbi Tiglao, Cal­la­mard lied when she said that “In April 2016, the gen­eral as­sem­bly of the world’s gov­ern­ment rec­og­nized ex­plic­itly that the war on drugs does not work. The United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly never made such a dec­la­ra­tion ex­plic­itly or im­plic­itly.

The UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s lengthy 11,000-word res­o­lu­tion (UN Doc­u­ment A/RES/S-30/1) is­sued April 19 en­ti­tled “Our joint com­mit­ment to ef­fec­tively ad­dress­ing and coun­ter­ing the world drug prob­lem” did not even use the term “war on drugs”, much less did it say it doesn’t work.

The res­o­lu­tion in fact even rec­og­nized that ”tan­gi­ble progress has been achieved” as a re­sult of ef­forts of na­tions to com­bat the global drug prob­lem. What the res­o­lu­tion high­lighted in its first para­graphs was its con­cern that “the avail­abil­ity of in­ter­na­tion­ally con­trolled drugs for med­i­cal and sci­en­tific pur­poses, in­clud­ing for the re­lief of pain and suf­fer­ing, re­mains low to non-ex­is­tent in many coun­tries of the world” – a veiled ref­er­ence to the grow­ing lobby to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana.

Does this lady from New York think that Filipinos are so back­ward that they’ll be un­able to ac­cess a UN doc­u­ment to fact-check her claim?” writes colum­nist Tiglao.

De­spite her claims to be an im­por­tant UN of­fi­cial, Cal­la­mard is only one of 56 re­searchers for the Of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights. But she was re­port­edly given a first class ticket and bil­leted in a five star lux­ury ho­tel cour­tesy of CHR.

MIS­CEL­LANY: This is good news for co­conut farm­ers who have been de­nied what is right­fully theirs for the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try. The SC de­clared there is no ques­tion that the co­conut levy as­sets are public funds.

This means the gov­ern­ment may take the nec­es­sary steps to pre­serve them and uti­lize them for the de­vel­op­ment of the co­conut in­dus­try. In a col­umn last Sun­day, Veron­ica Pedrosa of Al-Jazeera wrote on the farm­ers’ ini­tia­tive to de­velop more prod­ucts from the highly ver­sa­tile co­conut.

“The most com­pelling rea­sons to treat co­conut levy funds as public funds are the fact that it was raised through the State’s tax­ing power for the de­vel­op­ment of the co­conut in­dus­try as a whole and not merely to ben­e­fit in­di­vid­ual farm­ers,” the Supreme Court said.

The Philip­pine Co­conut Au­thor­ity (PCA) is hope­ful that with SC de­ci­sion, Con­gress will en­act one uni­fied law to be signed by Pres­i­dent Duterte be­fore the year ends. Let us watch de­vel­op­ments on the fund that was used scan­dalously to en­rich oli­garchs at the ex­pense of poor farm­ers.

The coco levy fund amount­ing to P75 bil­lion came from taxes im­posed on co­conut farm­ers man­dated by Pres­i­den­tial De­cree 755 in 1975.

In 2015, the SC stopped the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Ex­ec­u­tive Or­ders 179 and 180 giv­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III to man­age the coco levy fund.

* * * For clas­si­cal mu­sic lovers, my friend, Belle Cu­nanan sent this item. “Young Europe-trained Filipino clas­si­cal vi­o­lin­ist Joaquin Maria “Chino” Gu­tier­rez will stage a spe­cial an­niver­sary con­cert, ti­tled “Poème: A Mu­si­cal Jour­ney,” at the Fran­cisco San­ti­ago Con­cert Hall, BDO Tower, HV de la Costa St. cor. Makati Ave. on Sept. 23 at 7:30 pm. This is in cel­e­bra­tion of his 20 years as a vi­o­lin­ist.

He has been hailed as a young vir­tu­oso at 15, and de­scribed by the Philip­pine STAR as “a phe­nom­e­nal vi­o­lin­ist” and by Malaya News as “mes­mer­iz­ing.”

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