By: Rachel Ann Biclar Pedroso
We had a dream. That wishful thinking is for the Republic of the Philippines to transition from a corrupt government to an honest, diligent and dignified institution. We unceasingly pray for a leader with an iron hand; he who will serve the majority of the public’s interest without hidden agenda. He will fearlessly voice out the unheard cries of the marginalized poor, the convicted innocent, and the “shabolized youths”. He will champion the pleas of the unsung heroes_teachers, policemen, health care professionals and much more. He will make the Philippines the safest, the most livable in Asia if not the world. He will be a legend, a hero, a redeemer.
Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, is the “answered prayer” to that dream with 16, 601, 997 registered votes under his name, prompting him to the highest, most coveted seat in the government. He is very clever with words and with frightening expose he shocked the nation and the entire world. The tough-talking president was deemed as ” a man of uncertainty, a specter of a dictatorship with no regard for honesty, integrity, transparency, responsibility, and even basic decency,”as quoted by critics led by Mr. Mar Roxas during the election and presently by Senator Leila de Lima.
The man is trending in the Twitterverse because of his unpopular and fearless comments: From the traffic nuisance due to the Papal Visit during his election campaign in Manila to his “gutter remark” about the Australian Missionary rape victim, His Excellency has referred to them as manly jokes that should not be taken seriously as it was spoken out of his anger. Inciting rebuke from both the Catholic Church and the various women’s group, he, later on, apologized for the bad remarks.
He is nicknamed as “The Punisher” by the New York Times with nearly 1800 extrajudicial deaths of drug traffickers murdered mostly by vigilantes and during police operations within his seven-week tenure in the Presidential Office. The Commission of Human Rights has condemned these unlawful killings with Senator de Lima emphasizing that the summary execution must be stopped. The United Nation Human Rights experts are very vocal against the extrajudicial killings and warned the president that “incitement to violence and killing, is a crime under international law”. Senator Riza Hontiveros strongly quoted that “fighting crime and safeguarding the rights of all citizens are not mutually exclusive of one another. They co-exist.”
These people are in sanguineous terms. We never know who’s thirstier for blood, but we do hope that they’re not telling implicit lies. We can only hope that by choosing to defend or denounce their advocacy, we were responsibly informed of their cause.
Being a renegade to the eyes of those who passionately fight for the right to live: innocent, accused, guilty or otherwise, Digong is firm with his anti-drug war campaign, bold in saying that those who were caught “violently” resisting arrest should be killed on the spot. I cringed at the audacity of the words. I wonder, though, what if they follow the due process of the law, will we be able to see the change knowing that a simple rape case trial can last for years? I can’t rejoice at the number of deaths headlined every day. While it’s easy for others to blame the Duterte Administration for the horrible demands of coffin and lot in cemeteries, others are sighing in relief because their fears of being robbed in the dark alleys, raped in secluded areas, and slaughtered on the spot when an addict runs amok are lifted. A few grieve while the majority rejoices. Or are they really happy with the deaths? Maybe. Or maybe not. For who will have the temerity to celebrate when blood is shed? Satan perhaps. The one who died may have wronged the family by raping their daughter, killing their parents or influencing their son to drug addiction but the fact remains that they are corpse cursed with a bad luck of meeting those drug addicts who are “high” with marijuana, shabu or cocaine.
The spectator who comments nonchalantly at the issue will normally hail the President for avenging the victims,but do not generalize, because there are those who despite being a pro-administration is a crusader for life who does not believe in violence as a means to amend their previous crimes. These are the parents, as much as anyone is concerned. They want to protect their children from the harsh reality circulating in the print media, the television, and the internet. Despite the Special Parental Guidance (SPG) warning issued by the MTRCB, children with their curiosity and vivid memories will have to take the psychological blow if not guided accordingly. As responsible adults, we can only teach them, to be honest individuals with a discernment for what is morally right from wrong. Our actions and words are their best example. So we have to be very careful.
The 5th Commandment reminds us not to kill. Genesis 9:6 which states that “Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man his blood will be shed, for God made man in His own image. ” is monozygotic with the Confucian principle of doing unto others what you want others to do unto you. The principle of Primum non nocere, or non-maleficence stresses that we do no harm? How then can we reduce if not totally stop the malignancy of drug addiction? When one’s morality is concerned we come to question his ability to decide for himself and choose what action is aligned with his values. A manic drug addict is considered a nuisance to the society while a sober drug pusher is innocent until proven guilty. What about the faceless drug dealers? They are untouchables who impinge on the rights of others.
Lives were ruined and the end of a criminal’s life will never justify the wrongdoing that was done. His death will not bring back the lives that were lost. Can you imagine the exact digits of victims who were abused, traumatized and massacred by the 640, 233 suspects who have surrendered? Conscience-stricken or driven by fear of death, we knew that at some point we voted for the best renegade candidate. We don’t cheer the police brutality over the slain law offenders because “stereotyped criminals” as they may be, we have equal rights and entitlement as human. To arrest them is contrary to actually manslaughter them without a decent trial. PNP Chief Bato is proud of their momentum but police officials should be responsible law-abiding officers and the war against drug should not be carried out with mania and frenzy like a drug addict. But for these malefactors of the law, are they even aware of the principle of justice, or that they were once children who recited the Ten Commandments of God during their Values Education and 0r religion classes? Are they thankful for the people who fight for their right to live?
Duterte is not God. Why should we tremble in fear when he is as human as we are? Folly for those who branded him with an omnipotent glory and for those who dishonor the True One by the metaphor of the Angel of Death. He is one hundred percent human and at 71, he is very much made of flesh and blood and like any criminals out there, he is the primary target of paid assassins.
Recently, he labeled Iloilo as the most “shabolized city”. He earned the ire of some of the Ilonggos especially those who would rather defend the city’s cuisine, the Batchoy and Biscocho over the lives of those who die unaccounted due to drug addiction and the many more lives that will be ruined due to the rampant selling of the prohibited substance. An Ilonggo myself, I am very sad with the news. Iloilo despite the criticism will endure the word war and will emerge innocent because I believe that the president is not generally quoting the entire island as a land of drug pushers and users, rather he was basing on solid numbers presented to him by PDEA or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Tomorrow, I don’t want to see another tragic death, may it be a drug offender or a victim of him laying lifeless in the grass, covered with newspapers. I don’t want to hear a policeman’s death during a by-bust operation with a drug dealer. I don’t want to smell the scent of a dead body slowly decomposing in injustice.Our country is not a shooting gallery where anyone with a gun can pull the trigger any time he wants. When we look at the picture, all these deaths are pointless without the eradication of the Mary Jane grass that started all the evil and the man’s greed for wealth and power.
The big fish were caught, but during their 20 or 30 years in the wicked business, another fish was eyeing their millionaire’s hotspot. During this campaign against drugs, we notice that the eerie nights have become less humid, barely bearable and in the coming months it will be comfortable to go out. For how long, though? Isn’t drug addiction the new psychological prostitution that originated before Christ was born? When demand is there, supply will come.
With the clever, renegade ways of The Punisher, the felons will develop cunning ways to infiltrate the unguarded society. I hope that when the day comes, The Punisher will still be as firm with his advocacy minus the rumored link to the blatant disregard for human life. I don’t really mind the trash talk and the vigilantism his rivals has so well defamed him, he is a man of actions after all and so far he has produced results which his predecessor has failed. I wonder how dashing he is as the Mask of Zorro of the Philippines, sporting his Harley Davidson or Yamaha Virago while patrolling the streets at night.
Most of us were entranced by our dreams that have started five months ago. Too much slumber can weaken our resolve, though. Up to what extent are we going to be encouraged, persuaded, or manipulated by the war against drug or the campaign of a proper trial for drug traffickers? Silence is cowardice. Now, are we ready to pay the price of that dream? If so, wake up. We have to speak out. We have to make a stand. We have to participate.
A storyteller who dreams of becoming the next Martha Cecilia of the Philippines. An avid listener to every story spoken by heart.