It’s a war against people.

Since I wrote this (below), President Duterte has said that the gov’t will investigate incidents of “salvage.” And the DILG chief has urged the PNP to investigate the vigilante killings, and have Internal Affairs look into the killings of suspects during police operations.

It took months, and hundreds dead, and a lot of protesting–including a statement of condemnation of the “apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing” from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime–to get to those token acknowledgments.

I believe those statements from the Duterte admin were brought about by the clamor from various sectors of the local populace, as well as the international community. It came right after a spate of criticism from international media, incidentally, adding to the local voices. So we should keep at it.

While we’re waiting on real action and results on those promised investigations (vigilantes arrested, officers either cleared or kicked out of the force, EJKs brought down to nil), the same things we have been debating are still being debated. It’s exhausting. Lists of officials accused of involvement in the drug trade have been publicized, so instead of arguing in court, they’re arguing in public. It’s chaotic.

And it’s still bloody as hell. (Actually, the Prez himself mentioned usurping Satan’s throne, but we’ll skip all that in favor of what’s happening now in the corporeal world.)

It’s hard to speak on such matters. I have no answers. I have no solutions. I only have questions. But  I think we should keep asking these questions… because it won’t be coming from men who believe that might is right. It won’t be coming from the die-hard supporters who say “trust” in the Prez. No man is infallible. (Edit: As reports on the names on his narco-list are showing.) So here goes.

I can’t help but be disturbed at the toll this ‘war on drugs’ is exacting.
I’m also disturbed over what our President has been saying–because what he says, goes.
I’m trying to understand him by reading and re-reading what he says, cutting out the anecdotes to get to the heart of what he’s saying.


Sabi ng forensics, one year of shabu use, rehabilitation is no longer viable. Three years ago, PDEA said we have about three million drug addicts, that was three years ago.

Now incremental increase, place it at a very liberal growth, lagay mo na lang 3.7. Anong gawin natin dito sa adik na 3.7?

Kasi kung pwede lang ‘yan maging… galigin kong karne norte, ‘yan na rin ipakain ko sa kanila sa presohan.

At alam mo, we hold the distinction of foisting an image of a Republic at saan ka nakakita ng bayan, ng buong mundo na hinuli mo na nga dito sa labas at sinasabi ko diyan sa mga pulis ‘wag ninyong patayin ke magalit si De Lima. Buhayin ninyo hatid ninyo doon sa Muntinlupa.

Pagdating sa Muntinlupa, ang mga… Magluluto na naman ng shabu. Parang… we’re a nation that’s being slapped everyday and we just swallow the humiliation […]

“[…] I am not only pleading, I am kneeling down before you. Kindly stop kasi ako mapipilitan to use the extreme measure because I knew the gravity of the situation [….]

[…] hindi niyo malaman na ang lawak pala, pati ako, I was shocked. ‘Nong inipin ko na lahat ang pulis pati mga lumabas the multi… We are now about to reach 500. It’s still going up everyday kasi may nagsu-surrender. It’s still going up.

Saan ako maghanap ng pera para pang-rehab? ‘Yung diyan may bangag na, those beyond redemption, alagaan mo ‘yan kasi pag ni-release ko sa labas ‘yan, magho-hold up na naman. Magnakaw, akyat-bahay, kung anong gawin, just to have their fix for the day. Addict eh. It’s addiction.

Ang katawan… there’s a monkey riding at your back so you must have that dose of…. Kaya diyan ako galit.

Now kung ganun ang labanan, mababasa mo up to date, by tally ang lahat, 470. I do not care. I really do not care because I know na pagka ‘yang bangag na, a user is always a pusher, except if you are the son of Ayala, Gokongwei.

Kung ikaw lang ordinaryo, taga-Tondo, once you get hooked into the drugs, you must find another one to hook with you para siya ang magbigay ng suporta, siya ang magbili para sa iyo.”

Read the transcript published by Manila Bulletin.


I get why he’s angry. But I can’t help but think the way he’s channeling that anger is causing more harm than good.

I cannot help but ask questions, too. Are those assumptions correct?

Is it right to condemn sick people–because they are poor, because they have no money for rehab and the state has neither the money nor the inclination to find a way to rehab them because they are presumed “beyond redemption,” and because every poor junkie (anyone who isn’t rich enough to feed the habit) is presumed to eventually turn to a life of crime?

And because it is presumed that the meth addiction treatment is ineffectual, and the prisons are overfilled, then…what? One looks the other way when they are killed in the process of their surrender/apprehension? If mistakes are made anywhere between identification up to apprehension, it’s okay? We don’t care?

What does it mean for our humanity, that we look at a subset of our society as disposable?

Poverty is not a crime.
Wealth (if you come by it honestly) is not a crime; but neither does it buy absolution or immunity.
Addiction is a kind of disease; but a death sentence is not a cure.
[Section 15 of R.A. 9165 on the Use of Dangerous Drugs makes the intake of dangerous substances a criminal act…but the penalty imposed for the first offense is rehab. Imprisonment is a last resort (and I doubt it’s helpful at all).]
Drug trafficking, robbery/theft, murder, rape, assault—these are crimes committed by both rich and poor. Addict and non-addict.
Aren’t we supposed to treat the disease; punish the crime? Be fair?

Is it just that there is no distinction made between disease and crime, between victim and criminal?
Is it just that the innocent are caught up in this war?
Is it just that the most vulnerable—the sick, the poor—are the most targeted?

What does it mean for our criminal justice system, when the men with guns take the law into their own hands, and become punishers, executioners?
When did “cardboard justice” become the norm?
When did the demand for “unidentified gunmen” go up? (And where are the investigators? Will any of these gunmen be identified at any point, and prevented from murdering? How’s that search going?)
When did we throw out the rules of criminal procedure?

We are presumed innocent until proven guilty, not presumed guilty and immediately condemned to die—without due process. Last I checked, this was a country that had rules, the accused allowed a defense and a fair hearing, and a country where death penalty has not been reinstated. Last I checked, our executive, legislative, and judicial branches were supposed to provide checks and balances.

When did ‘human rights’ become optional, in fact, a dirty term? When did treating people like human beings become a bad thing?

Dehumanization, extrajudicial/summary executions, are crimes against humanity.

Do you really feel secure in this kind of environment? When the catch-phrases are “papatayin kita” and “shoot-to-kill”? People who applaud after hearing a death threat, must be insane. Shouldn’t we be terrified?

Our President says he does not want to kill…but he uses the promise of death to cow people. He uses it liberally. And he tells his men to shoot-to-kill. To triple their efforts. To “not stop until the last drug lord, last financer and last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars, or below the ground if they so wish.”

He says he doesn’t care about the current 470 dead (571 as of Aug. 4 according to the Inquirer  and 852 as of Aug. 5 according to ABS-CBN’s tally, since May 10) , but maybe you should. Before this war ends, are we looking at an estimated 3.7 million dead–is that acceptable?

And at the end of it all, after the drugs are confiscated and destroyed, the people are dead and their loved ones left reeling with grief, the accused left sputtering in outrage (unmasked and penalized by a court of law?), will this “cleansed” country no longer have people craving a fix? Or will their living conditions still prod people into sniffing, ingesting, shooting up whatever allows them escape? Will the conditions that make people turn to drugs have been addressed? Will we have ensured that we didn’t just play whack-a-druglord, and more turn up where one had been “removed” considering the source is still abroad? Will our justice system be stronger, our penal institutions reformed? Will we trust our policemen more? Will we, as a nation, have changed for the better?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: