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Safeguard rights, Duterte tells Pinoys on People Power day

- Kyle Aristopher­e T. Atienza

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday, urged Filipinos to be vigilant in safeguardi­ng their rights and the country’s democratic institutio­ns as he marked the 35th anniversar­y of a street uprising that toppled the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

In a statement, he asked Filipinos to set aside their difference­s and “work together in building a legacy that we can proudly leave behind for future generation­s.”

Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo said Filipinos should have a “collective resolve” to fight the threats to the country’s fragile democracy.

Filipinos are in the process of “forging the nation we dreamt of and fought for,” the opposition leader said in a separate statement, adding that the promise of the EDSA uprising remained unfulfille­d.

Ms. Robredo, whom the Supreme Court favored in an election protest filed by rival and the dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., cited “efforts to revise history for the personal agenda of a powerful few.”

The Philippine­s slipped one place to No. 55 out of 167 countries in London-based think tank Economist Intelligen­ce Unit’s democracy index last year.

The nation under Mr. Duterte retained its “flawed democracy” status, with a score of 6.56 from 6.4 a year earlier.

At least 188 human rights defenders have been killed under the Duterte administra­tion, while 426 activists and community organizers were arrested, according to human rights group Karapatan.

Since becoming president in 2016, Mr. Duterte has attacked journalist­s critical of his policies, particular­ly his deadly war on drugs.

Amid a coronaviru­s pandemic, Mr. Duterte signed a law expanding crimes against terror, which critics said could be used to violate human rights and stifle dissent. —

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