Human rights, human lives

In his 2018 State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President of the Republic of the Philippines said that his concern is not human rights, but human lives. "When illegal drug operations turn nasty and bloody, advocates of human rights mock our law enforcers and this administration to no end," he said. "Sadly, I have yet to really hear howls of protest from human rights advocates and church leaders against drug lordism, drug dealing and drug pushing as forceful and vociferous."

Let us analyze his statement from the standpoint of law.

Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law.[1] Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.[2]

It is quite curious to say that one's concern is human rights but human lives because the right to life is one of the most basic examples of human rights.

Right to life is a term that describes the belief that a being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another entity including government. The concept of a right to life arises in debates on issues of capital punishment, war, abortion, euthanasia, police brutality, justifiable homicide, and animal rights. Various individuals may disagree on which areas this principle applies, including such issues previously listed.[3]This means that nobody, including the Government, can try to end your life. It also means the Government should take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect you and, in some circumstances, by taking steps to protect you if your life is at risk. Public authorities should also consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy. If a member of your family dies in circumstances that involve the state, you may have the right to an investigation. The state is also required to investigate suspicious deaths and deaths in custody.[4]

An example of violation of the right to life (a human right) by the government is extrajudicial killings. An extrajudicial killing (also known as extrajudicial execution) is the killing of a person by governmental authorities or individuals without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.[5]

Extrajudicial killings and death squads are common in Philippines.[6]