Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” has a problem. There is a noisy minority who is against it and bent on making Duterte look like the bad guy at every step of his campaign to rid the country of the drug scourge. As if it weren’t hard enough dealing with drug lords and other “drug personalities”, Duterte has to contend with detractors whose new-found “concern” for “human rights” comes across as just an outrage fad.
Duterte’s detractors summarily label as “extrajudicial killings” (EJKs) the mounting incidences of homicides that make headline news nowadays. However when one looks underneath all the shrieking in social media, there is little hard evidence to link those homicides directly to illegally-conducted police operations. One would have expected some action from the families and friends of the “victims” of these alleged EJKs at the very least. Have there been any charges filed against the perpetrators of these alleged EJKs? Any real “investigative journalism” diligently and objectively conducted to unearth real facts on this matter?
What is baffling about all this fashionable outrage over EJKs is the quickness to put up Duterte as the Evil Mastermind of it all. It is important to consider how most of the foot-stomping is coming from quarters that have, from the onset, been composed of the bleeding-heart emos who were politically-aligned against Duterte during the elections. Under that light, it really is not surprising how this cornerstone of Duterte’s campaign for the presidency was latched onto by the Opposition.
Indeed, over the six years of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III’s presidency, the very same people who cry Bloody Murder today stood back in stunned silence as incidences of thievery, preventable death, and, yes, EJKs transpired on the back of astounding incompetency and evident criminal intent perpetrated right from the very top. In contrast, Duterte has been forthright about his intent, his approach, and his resolve to do what it takes to fight crime when he becomes president. Unlike Aquino whose embrace of a cadre of family members and friends whose culpability for the crimes the “Silent Majority” today remained silent about during his time was resolute, Duterte’s administration today exhibits a consistent upholding of the ideals of integrity and transparency espoused during his campaign.
The most incredible position taken by those who decry this “war on drugs” is the idea that human rights have “died” within the first month of the Duterte presidency. This position is skewed unfairly towards the very criminals against which this “war” is being waged. On top of mere allegations, people are highlighting the “human rights” of the targeted criminals and forgetting that the scale of the community of real victims of the drug trade utterly dwarf these activists’ preferred victims. These real victims — those that Duterte’s “war” seeks to deliver justice to — were also entitled to their right to lead peaceful lives. The high-horsed flavour of “human rights” today’s social media activists parrot off textbooks written halfway around the world simply do not resonate with them.
It is in these ordinary folk who aspire to no more than uneventful commutes to and from work everyday that Duterte’s mandate to do as he had promised finds its deep foundation.
Truth be told, these “human rights activists” who spend their days screeching about EJKs suffer from a lack of perspective. The more than 200 allegedly drug-related deaths cited in the news (which are yet to be proven to be EJKs), is matched by the reported surrender of “over 10,000 self-confessed drug pushers and users” and almost 600 arrested in July.
Even more important are revelations of the horrifying extent of the way the coddling this drug trade may have enjoyed from the past Aquino government. News is making the rounds today of Senator Leila De Lima’s ties to top-level drug honchos. But speculation over De Lima’s cozy relationship with these personalities while serving as Justice Secretary under Aquino were already rife long ago. A 2014 Manila Times report noted how the hut of an alleged friend of De Lima was “spared in a […] raid on the maximum security compound of the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP)in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)”.
According to the source, the inmate- -Jaybee Niño Sebastian—resides in one of the most comfortable houses inside the compound. His kubol or hut has an entertainment room, kitchen, comfort room and an air-conditioned bedroom.
NBI operatives on Monday swooped down on the cells of known drug lords Peter Co, Herbert Colangco and Jojo Baligad and confiscated illegal items including firearms, appliances and stash of cash. The raiding team, however, did not touch the condominium-like quarters of Sebastian, the source said.
Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao wrote also in 2014 that De Lima should be fired over ‘Bilibid Hilton’ citing how, as Justice Secretary, she delivered nothing less than a “massive failure to manage our biggest prison” which, as a result, “has become a national embarrassment”.
Not surprisingly, the drug situation that continues to plague Bilibid stains De Lima’s character to this day and, thankfully, is attracting long-overdue scrutiny. Solicitor General Jose Calida recently announced that he will be investigating De Lima over these alleged links. In Congress, a House resolution is in the works to call for the investigation of the “Bilibid Hilton” De Lima seemingly tolerated during her watch. Davao del Norte Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez has reportedly announced plans to file such a resolution that will call for “an investigation into the proliferation of drug use at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when Senator Leila de Lima was still justice secretary.”
These revelations of coddling at the highest places in Philippine government along with the tangible removable of “drug personalities” from the Philippines’ city streets and country roads are the results the majority of Filipino voters counted on seeing when they gave Duterte his mandate. The nebulous notions of “human rights”, while noble in and of themselves in the right context, for now remain a mere curiosity to a crime-weary public today. As such, those who continue to regard — and make quaint noises surrounding — the relatively small picture of merely-alleged “extrajudicial killing” should get a grip. Otherwise, they will only make themselves irrelevant and undermine their own cause.
[Photo courtesy Breitbart.com.]
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