Robredo, Aquino oppose Duterte's human rights vs. human lives remark

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Former President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Leni Robredo lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte's statement during his third SONA where he said his concern is people's lives amid criticisms on the administration's anti-drug crackdown. | Aquino's photo grabbed form gov.ph video

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — Vice President Leni Robredo and former President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte's statement during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) where he said his concern is "human lives" amid criticisms on his anti-drug crackdown.

In his SONA, Duterte hit back at critics of his campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, asserting that the push would not end just yet.

"If you think that I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight because of [your] demonstrations, your protests, which I find, by the way, misdirected, then you got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives," he said.

READ: Duterte: Drug war 'far from over'

This statement, according to Robredo, is "false" and "misleading."

"During the SONA early this week, we heard the idea that human rights is not about human lives. But we all know that even the most casual students of human rights will recognize this for what it is: a false and misleading dichotomy," she said on the sidelines of the Liberal International's event where Sen. Leila de Lima was given the "Prize for Freedom" recognition.

"The fact that such a blatant untruth has sparked a debate is further proof that even in a nation with a much-vaunted 'human rights Constitution,' much remains to be done in creating a deeper awareness and appreciation of human rights among our people. We fight for human rights precisely because we value human lives," the Vice President stressed.

Aquino also opposed the statement, saying human rights and human lives are inseparable.

"Sabi niya, I am more concerned about human lives than human rights. Syempre alam naman saan ako nagmula. Pwede ba paghiwalayin 'yun? Pwede bang wala kang karapatan na Universal na maski saang parte ng mundo? Pareho pareho ang basic na karapatan," he said.

[Translation: He said he's more concerned about human lives than human rights. Of course, it is known where I came from. Can we separate those two? Is it possible not to have universal rights wherever you are in the world? Basic rights are all the same.]

Duterte has been drawing ire from human rights advocates for his purported brutal measures to eradicate criminality and illegal drugs in the country, a campaign promise that catapulted him to the presidency.

In his first two years in office, over 102,000 anti-drug operations have been conducted leading to the arrest of  a total of 147,000 drug personalities and confiscation of ₱14.66 billion worth of illegal drugs.

Data also show that 4,354 drug personalities have died during anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018. About 23,000 other suspected drug-related deaths are still being investigated.

CNN Philippines' Makoi Popioco and Lara Tan contributed to this report.