Nobody is “scoffing” at human rights. Indeed, for that matter, nobody wants a return to the bad old days when lords of the manor could simply judge and sentence peasants to be beheaded on a whim (despite Game of Thrones being everyone’s favourite TV indulgence). The trouble suffered by the garden-variety “human rights” activists that have, of late, become Netizens’ favourite whipping boys (or, worse, sad punchlines) has more to do with perception.
We should recall that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who is a self-avowed antithesis to everything Western liberals (and their wannabe counterparts in the Philippines) stand for won on a protest vote. The liberals who ruled before him, quite simply, over-promised then under-delivered and, even as they did that, continued to chant — and, in the process, progressively devalue — key taglines that define their ideology many of which had to do with “human rights” and notions of “freedom”.
Nonetheless, everyone who lives in liberal democracies (including societies such as the Philippines’ that aspire to its ideals) enjoy their human rights. And it is quite unrealistic to think that Filipinos (particularly those who support the current Duterte administration) would gladly “renounce” their “human rights” as Mr Gideon Peña postulates in a tweet.
I wonder if those who scoff at human rights would be willing to renounce theirs.
Rather, those who are in the Opposition perhaps should, instead, re-think their chosen approach of sending across the message that they alone are appreciative of “human rights”. The problem with the Opposition is their if-you-are-not-with-us-you-are-against-us posturing in which they brand themselves as the heroic last bastion of “human rights” advocacy in the Philippines. This attitude can be seen in the way the Liberal Party painted itself as the Philippine electorate’s disente option during the 2016 elections, the way Rappler CEO Maria Ressa keeps fancying herself a martyred “victim” of a “weaponised” Internet of anti-“human rights” trolls ad nauseum, and the way the broader community of moderate human rights advocates have gotten into bed with communists just to bolster their street rally numbers.
The Opposition and their “human rights” cheerleaders have, in effect, formed a virtual Taliban-like holier-than-thou bloc of political correctness police that has attracted derision rather than the admiration they expected of the average Filipino man-on-the-street who, above all the petty partisanism, only wants a safe environment for himself and his family. Indeed, it is quite baffling when one observes just how obviously out-of-touch with public sentiment this bloc had become. For example, a photo of a military truck spotted on campus at the University of the Philippines (UP) posted by Leftist group ANAKBAYAN on Facebook drew jeers and snark from hundreds of Netizens who had evidently had enough of the same old Cold War era sloganeering based on a long-obsolete ideology.
More level-headed Opposition leaders need to re-think their strategy and disassociate themselves and their parties from these two factions who continue to latch on to utterly discredited thinking: (1) the Yellowtards who continue a perverse tradition of fundamentalist loyalty to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and (2) the communists and their satellites of Leftist “legal front organisations”. Both these blocs are hindering the rise of a much-needed credible and intelligent Opposition that is essential to keeping the Philippines’ fledgling democracy vibrant and constructive.
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