Responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s sixth and last State of the Nation Address, which included repeated threats and incitement to kill those involved in the illicit drug trade, as well as a request for Congress to pass a law providing free legal assistance to security forces accused of violations, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director Butch Olano said:
“Duterte’s last SONA is nothing more than an hours-long attempt at window dressing. It was a litany of his administration’s supposed achievements serving to conceal the country’s real situation, where impunity reigns supreme amidst killings and other abuses that have become government policy.”
“Instead of giving a factual account of the state of the nation, Duterte used the opportunity to mock the ICC by repeating his threats and encouragement of killings, especially of those involved in illegal drugs and of alleged communists. Duterte also called on Congress to legislate free legal assistance to police and military who face widespread accusations of killings and other violations.
“The real state of the nation is an unprecedented human rights crisis characterized by extrajudicial killings and other abuses, amidst relentless government efforts to evade accountability. All this, compounded by a violent crackdown on activists and human rights defenders in the guise of anti-terrorism efforts, and punitive government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With only less than a year left under the Duterte administration, our countdown to the day of reckoning has likewise begun. We, alongside families of victims and civil society organizations in the country, will tirelessly work to ensure that justice catches up with those who have committed crimes under domestic and international law with blatant impunity.”