The Change To Evil
Internet trolls have really gone way to the deep end of idiocy by calling those who decry extrajudicial killings as anti-Duterte, “dilawan” or pro-Aquino. Nothing, perhaps, is more stupid, politically, than the attempt of trolls to disenfranchise the voice of millions of citizens who bear only valid concerns about a government gravid with observable abuses, while at the same time damn their own battlecry in the discredit of such a myopic sentiment: “Hail, Duterte!”
Duterte or Die. Is this where things boil down to nowadays? For, as it seems, those who do not agree with the lunacy going on, are automatically labeled enemies of the state by the supporters of this strange, wildly controversial president.
Even if President Rodrigo Duterte governed the country perfectly, it is still dumb to let the fate of our nation be held hostage by the comstockery of pro-Duterte trolls. Blind fanaticism will not let us see past the shallow colors that now comprise our politics and, therefore, keep us from seeing the truth…the appalling reality happening around us.
Thousands of poor citizens are dead because of the Duterte administration’s so-called “War On Drugs”…and yet people are applauding. Never mind if evidences point to these deaths as actually being summary executions carried out by “killer cops”, or that these violent operations have mostly been done under dubious circumstances and highly questionable methods. Most Duterte fans have basically narrowed down their thinking to these points: Hurray, Duterte. Kill all of them. Shut up, you yellow-loving critics!
The truth is, different groups, local and international, denounce all these deaths that come as a result of the government’s campaign against drugs, be they extrajudicial or not. They’re not all members of Noynoy Aquino’s yellow fan club. Many of those who protest and condemn the extrajudicial killings now, as a matter of fact, did likewise during Aquino’s leadership. And by no means should the occasional checks on sloppy police procedures, on the senseless loss of life, and the many instances where the president may have abused his power--translate immediately as hatred for Duterte.
Looking at the different angles of the anti-drug campaign, one must be either a bonehead or an unthinking fanatic not to realize that—
The thousands of supposed drug personalities already felled by the police are mostly drug couriers or drug users, not drug lords, despite President Duterte’s claim of having a list of government officials who are involved in narco-politics, people who actually fit the profile more of the narco-politicians that he vowed to neutralize at the start of his anti-drug campaign.
Various probes into the deadly incidents that have resulted from the war on drugs point to voluminous evidences of unlawful police procedures, poorly conducted police operations and even the abuse of authority by ruthless and trigger-happy lawmen.
Drug lords profiting millions of pesos from the illegal drug trade are not poor, but then most of the drug suspects killed by police are from the lowest economic class. If ever the war on narco-politics could be won, it is certainly more rational to go after the “big fish”—the local officials who have allowed huge, factory-scale shabu laboratories to rise and operate in the respective areas of responsibility; the municipal police chiefs who take bribes from drug dealers and turn a blind eye on the true syndicate supplying the petty drug pushers; the smugglers of billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs that uncannily escape the attention of customs and port officials; and the international syndicates that, according to Duterte himself, are the source of the greater amount of drugs circulating in our country—instead of the small-time pushers who (even as hundreds of thousands or even millions of pesos worth of drugs found near their dead bodies are presented as evidence against them) are mostly wearing flipflops and shorts, can’t even afford to buy cars, and tote (supposedly) poorly branded guns.
Equality under the rule of law requires that, as much as those accused of corruption and high crimes in government are deemed innocent until proven guilty, so should drug suspects be treated also. If the allegations that Paolo Duterte is a protector of drug traffickers in the Bureau of Customs are false, and therefore should not warrant his arrest by gun-brandishing cops—then Kian Delos Santos, too, shouldn’t have been slain in a purported gun battle with arrestors who simply based their information on social media.
Belief in the notion that drug abuse is the foremost problem of this country should not translate to an automatic license to kill citizens who are victims themselves of drug syndicates, corrupt public officials and government negligence. Far worse crimes are being committed that outright threaten the Filipino race—including treason, plunder, smuggling, electoral fraud, and state-sponsored assassinations of progressive nationalists—yet many of the culprits (who frequently hold positions of power) are simply pardoned by the government.
If there are 5 million Filipinos who are caught in the snare of the illegal drug trade, the solution cannot simply be to kill all these individuals. Even if drug-pushers or drug-users fired their guns at police, the right to life provided by the Constitution to every Filipino should still be the priority of state agents who have sworn to protect and serve the citizenry. When many other methods can be used in sting operations, to disarm, capture, and neutralize drug suspects without killing them, it’s just awful how thousands have already been condemned to death without a fair trial. It seems, as “dead men tell no tales”, more of the silencing of individuals by way of murder has ensued, rather than a legitimate campaign by the police to protect the nation from the menace of drug abuse.
Even President Duterte admits he was wrong in his estimate of being able to end the country’s drug problem in 3 to 6 months. Now, with his most recent claim that it might take more than one term to finally rid our society of illegal drugs, it is only sensible to re-evaluate the viability of and the rationale behind the Duterte administration’s strategy, methodology and philosophy in its very controversial and murderous war on drugs. Is it not, for instance, a failure already? Also…how and when can we say that it is a success? How many more will have to die?
There are many among us who do support the Duterte administration and agree that a drug-free Philippines is a better one, however do not see how the rampant killing of drug suspects can better the situation. Many also feel even more terrorized by the police than the probability of a drug addict becoming violent.
It is our duty to correct what we think is right or wrong with our government, to speak out our moral beliefs in connection with policy, and to uphold our God-given rights as a people. To cower from these duties because we are afraid of authoritarian retribution is to betray our national ideals of freedom, equality, and decency in the cause of self-determination.
Charmed by cunning, or a common knack for indifference to the weak and helpless, it’s quite understandable how Duterte fanatics couldn’t tell an honest and legitimate exercise for the greater good, from a lame excuse to proliferate a fascist’s reign of terror. But to not see the wrong in what are already self-damning messages of a leader—messages such as “I will kill you”, or “Shoot them” and “I guarantee you, you won’t be prosecuted if you kill them, as I have your back”—is truly worrisome, as it already demonstrates a capacity for evil.
Complacency amidst inequality may mean a mere lack in the sense of justice. To laud wickedness, however, especially one that is as brazen and vastly injurious to the innocent as Duterte’s so-called war on drugs, is nothing short of diabolical. Only demons mock the hapless victims of abuse, insult the dead who can only be faulted for falling prey to vile conspiracies, and laugh at grieving mothers whose children were brutally killed by the merciless. In short, only the evil cheer for evil deeds.
The summary killings, the young casualties, the police brutality, and gross disdain for human rights brought about by the government’s anti-drug campaign shouldn’t be nightmarish only to those guilty of drug crimes, but also to everyone who is good. This is precisely why the church, the local and international human rights groups, and various governments around the world that uphold good are calling out Duterte for what seems more and more a chilling bloodlust.
United, basking in power and feeling invincible, Duterte fanatics, like the Nazis, can go on insolently until the irrefutable truth is unveiled and comes around to judge them. And when that time comes, they should be held accountable too, for empowering the one who promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals, urged people to kill drug addicts, and ordered the police to carry out numerous atrocities—Gestapo-style. In their twisted idolatry, they’ve dimmed their own wits and refused to heed the warnings about a Davao Death Squad then, and a National Death Squad now.
Evil’s greatest trick, they say, lies in convincing people it doesn’t exist. Maybe this isn’t true, not anymore at least, as another trick seems to promulgate evil’s ends more efficiently nowadays: demonizing its own victims. The ploy is clever as it is simple. “That’s the bad guy. I can’t be the bad guy because I’m killing the bad guy. Therefore, I’m the good guy.”
In light of these happenings, may we remember—that it is criminal enough to watch and do nothing while murder ensues. But to be cheering, goading, defending and supporting the murderer and even go to the extent of lambasting his victim, well…that’s actually being accomplices to the crime.
The Preamble of our Constitution states that we, as a people are “to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace”. Seeing what’s happening today, we have to wonder: Are we the same people?
* Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 13, No. 6)