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Righteous Human Rights

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The Philippines’ dictionary of the future will define human rights as death and protest, a disturbing and unworldly distinction. Future human beings will instinctively use rights in pertaining to rants and oblivious claims and demands for a fair judgment. Another year after, loud war cries of the mob will just be a normal regular day to day news. The future didn’t use to be like this, where people march to death and get dispersed by pressured water to fight for their rights. Before we got here, the past used to be better, rejoicing in freedom, living in Utopia. This place, this future, didn’t use to be loud and uncannily fueled with anger and violence over justice and rights. It used to be people using their rights in polite and well-mannered ways. They respect and talk in a democratic way where officials listen and understand while human rights advocates have their patience. Unfortunately, that is not the future that has arrived: the reality is these visions of flawless Philippine-to-come remain in futuristic books, undocumented articles, and unheard thoughts of analytic thinking human beings. But still, we are consumed by possibilities – possibilities of freedom indulged in peace and serenity, that was told a long time ago, in a place where we hope reality will soon sprout from.

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“I do not care if I burn in hell for as long as the people I serve live in paradise” – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Pres. Duterte, in this statement, describes a future so distant we could barely fathom it; a government powered by knowledge, sacrifice, and leadership; a success braveheart-like movie we’ve all watched and without a doubt had given us motivations and encouragements toward life; the building blocks of rights.

According to Rush Limbaugh, an American radio talk show host, and conservative political commentator, in his book “The Way Things Ought To Be”, “Rights are either God-given or [evolving] out of the democratic process. Those rights are based on the ability of people to agree on a social contract – the ability to make and keep the agreement.” Human beings are given rights, basically and most importantly, to live. They can protect themselves whenever they are asked about the information they are not aware of. They have the right to remain silent. They can defend and make a stand, chin-up-high, of their opinions and claims. They can pursue far more boundaries of reality, look at certain unclassified documents, and be able to experience the essence of living.

But not all rights are given equally – exceptions are always with them. You can speak whenever you want but being respectful and courteous is a must. You make your own action in consideration of how people will react or feel upon your decision. Technically, human rights come with responsibility … and they are sometimes violated.

Ponder on this scenario:

Sleeping soundly in your room, you heard a knock and opened the door. You are invited by the police officers with a menu of only one dish – for you to come with them and rejection is not an option.

This is one of the many examples of how human rights are violated.

Being taken into custody without an arrest warrant or prior knowledge that you are to be questioned and summoned violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article 3, Section 2 of Bill of Rights, which states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized”.

There has been a lot of human rights violations ever since and it has increased in an unprecedented manner when Pres. Duterte’s regime came forth. Reports from a lot of human rights organization and political leaders revealed that almost 12,000 people have been killed just for the anti-drug campaign, and millions are still in jeopardy of harassment and abuse. With these circumstances, Pres. Duterte was criticized in his ruling and was called tyrant; his poll trusts dropping by almost 10% from 75% to 65% (but was still considered a good statistics).

“Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives,” President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his State of the Nation Address, 2018.

There has been a lot of confusion and debate about this statement whether human life is greater than human rights, and they are different for the President. It is a fact that they are mutually inclusive, however, for some people, if someone else’s rights are making other people’s lives be in peril, life must come first. Rights won’t exist without life, but life can exist without rights. However, that life without rights won’t be in a good state. They coexist for a reason: a peaceful well-organized community is a reason.

Rights come in all manners – and also the violations and laws within it. In fact, in the case of harassment and abuse specified only on sexuality, based from a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations, a social research institution in the Philippines, 88% of women ages 18-24 experienced street sexual harassment mainly through the process of catcalling and unwanted wolf-whistling. This goes against almanacs of laws protecting women including Republic Act no. 9262 also known as “The anti-violence against women and their children act,” which states that women should not be harmed or put into violence. Sexual Harassment is one of the most well-known human rights violations that just not give an unbearable experience but far worse of ruining or taking someone else’s life.

That is why, with these said, few of many, violations – promotion and in-depth education about human rights is a must. People should be informed of occurrences that might destroy their virtue or will of living – they should be informed that not all people will treat them humanely or as equal as they think. There are always that people can take advantage of their weaknesses in life. With proper and comprehensive education about human rights, people will learn how to protect themselves and avoid being mistreated. The upright way of fighting for each others’ rights should be in a total utmost concern because as we all know, some people are using their rights in a way that results in thousands of bad casualties instead of really solving the problem in a nice way. Though we can’t really blame them for not being heard and sometimes dismissed by the government, a nice and peaceful way of communicating and connecting with each and everyone, no matter what their community roles or positions or their state in lives are, is still the best and most preferred version of interaction.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Some people just exist,” Oscar Wilde.

To live is to have freedom and feel the sweet-pouring-pleasure of life. Rights are your powers to break unjustified limits. Keep in mind that going too far or creating risks much bigger than what you are fighting for is what keeps you from not living and just existing for a reason of conflict and hostility. Morality is what makes people sane and wired to the ever changing and growing community.

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