Dear Mr. Jegou,
It took me a lot of thinking whether I should respond to your article that was published on rappler.com just last week about President Duterte’s war on drugs where you played it as an act similar to opening Pandora’s Box. Although you placed a disclaimer that you are not an expert on Philippine politics, I honestly feel that some of the arguments that you raised were erroneous and that you need not be an expert in politics to be able to identify that.
First, your claim that President Duterte openly called for the murder of drug dealers and addicts is unfounded. He had only one call made during the campaign period until now – to apprehend and rehabilitate drug dealers and users. In the event that these individuals fight to avoid arrest then the police would have to fulfil their sworn duty to protect the public and, if need be, fight back even if it meant that either parties may incur casualties. I think that is logical.
President Duterte never called for the murder of anyone. He encouraged these dealers and addicts to surrender peacefully. The proposition is for them to let go of their old ways and be rehabilitated. Daily news reports have seen hundreds of users and dealers surrendering peacefully. In fact, as of this writing, an estimated 60, 000 drug suspects have voluntarily surrendered to authorities and yet none of those who surrendered were murdered. So to stake your claim that President Duterte openly called for the murder is completely baseless and is just your attempt to react on and feed people with misinformation.
Yes, we cannot discount the fact that we have seen an increase in the numbers of deaths due to police encounters and summary killings. In your accounting, you have mentioned 119 individuals who received no investigation and no judgement. Though I am with you on certain points on this one, I also would like to give a different perspective on this issue.
I believe that police authorities are in a solid position to enforce the law and to apprehend individuals who violate it. In situations where suspected drug dealers and users become aggressive and becomes a threat to public safety or theirs, I expect the police force to neutralize the person. If the suspects decide to fight it off until death then I expect the police force to do the same. If in the process, death comes to the suspects then that is a consequence of their decision. It is NOT murder. In the same way, if death comes to any police officer then it comes with their national duty and, again, it is NOT murder.
I have often wondered why a small number of drug suspects would take the brazen act of engaging police forces into a fire fight and face death rather than surrendering peacefully. My initial conclusion is that the neglect to empower our police forces by previous administrations and the possibility of drug links of the country’s top officials have implanted into the minds of these criminals that they are above the law. In the same way, that our police forces are laughed at for doing their job.
It does not help that government bodies have put too much premium on upholding human rights in such a way that criminals have comfortably placed themselves that apprehending them for a crime is a human rights violation. They can initiate engagement with our police forces in a firefight because they feel very secure that their “human rights” will be protected by the government should they die or get injured but NONE of our police forces get the same treatment if the same thing happens to them. The way previous governments have treated criminals have given them the confidence that they are above the law.
I stand by President Duterte’s recent statement that if suspected criminals want due process then they should go to the courts. The ONLY way that they can get due process is when they surrender peacefully and go through the due process accorded by law. If they decide to engage in a firefight and they die in the process then these suspects have decided upon themselves not to go through the due process. Again when our police forces are engaged, I expect them to keep public safety their priority and to defend themselves when needed. When suspected criminals get killed in a firefight with police authorities that is not murder. It is a consequence of their decision to evade the law.
But then again you will argue that we cannot discount the fact that we still have a number of dead bodies popping up around the city. These victims of summary killings, I would presume, you would associate to the current administration. However to associate it to President Duterte as an action in response to his call against drugs would be premature. Again, no full investigation has been done on these killings and it would be an injustice to blame it on the current administration.
I guess the big question that really needs to be answered is whether these killings are done by vigilante groups heeding the call against drugs or is this the work of drug syndicates as a means of cleaning up their ranks? Both are possibilities. Unless a thorough investigation is already done, we would have to wait for the answers and hold off any premature judgement.
Yes, the drug problem in the Philippines is a deep-rooted problem and it needs to have everyone involved. Filipinos have a choice to become this administration’s partners for change hence the call for the active participation of every Filipino to help fight the problem of drugs in the country. But President Duterte never gave direct orders to anyone to murder or kill these drug dealers and users as per your argument. His instructions was simply to assist police forces to identify these suspects. A citizen’s arrest is the last resort. If the suspect resist arrest and poses a threat to the community then regular citizens have the right to defend themselves.
You were right in saying that the current drive against drugs opened a Pandora’s Box. It has clearly given every Filipino a picture on how big and wide the problem that we need to deal with. It made us realize that we need to take a strong stance and be partners for change. Our desire to rid our nation of this problem is not a war against our fellow Filipinos so it is not the first step of a civil unrest. It is a fight against drugs, not against anyone so please be wary of the words that you use, as you suggested.
Again, I thought about whether to write this blog but I wanted to also give you an insight of how I have seen my country deteriorate and the need to address the REAL issues at hand. I think that it is better to focus on the 60, 000 Filipinos who voluntarily and peacefully surrendered to the police force rather than focusing on the hundreds who died because they opted to pursue their old and illegal ways. Again, their death is not murder but a consequence of their decisions and actions.
“Because I am ready to start my work for the nation.”
This was how President Duterte ended his inaugural speech last June 30, 2016 as he officially started his duties as the 16th President of the Republic. I have to admit that it was only the day after that I listened to his speech. And it is only now that I have resumed blogging on this page because I had to wait for Duterte’s inauguration as it is the best way to shut his “famed” critics who had taken too much of the bitter pill after the election. The funny thing is that their respective candidates have already taken on the “moving on” part after the loss while they keep being sore losers on the sidelines.
Sorry, ladies and gents, but it is President Duterte now so deal with it!
Going back to his inaugural speech, I liked it. It was simple, heartfelt, straightforward, and was void of the intellectual clichés meant to impress the typical Filipino. He emphasized the need to work together in nation building, recognizing the need for everyone’s cooperation in the process. There are no “bosses” and “servants”. What he calls for is partnership, one that he has gladly bannered from Day 1 of his campaign. You have to admit… he is the only candidate who have mustered enough support by mobilizing people from all walks of life to campaign for him, expecting only good governance from him as return.
He was right in saying that the real problem that we have is the “erosion of faith and trust in the government”. The lack of faith stems from the fact that the government have been self-serving to its present leaders and their “friends” where the law only applies to most and not to a select few. I mean where will you find a sister of a former President using the Presidential chopper for a campaign sortie, which is obviously against the law, but still manages to get away with it by saying that the law does not apply to her because she is one of the country’s highest tax payer? And then we wonder why there is a breakdown on law and order. It is simple because we already know that we can always get around with the law, just like my example, hence the loss of faith in the government. It is already in our psyche that we can always get around with the law… may paraan para maiwasan ang batas. And then we wonder why we witness brazen acts of lawlessness in our communities.
I seriously think that his fight against criminality is the area where he can gain immediate results that will be easily noticed by the public. Interestingly, we have seen the increase in the number of criminals that have turned themselves over just after Duterte won the elections, even the numbers of deaths associated with drug trafficking. The news have bannered it and, whether we admit it or not, it had given us a breather from the usual news of crimes being committed. These news had given us that sense of feeling that change has begun – one that we have always hoped for.
Duterte was very smart to begin the restoration of the people’s faith in the government by restoring the faith to the police force dramatically. By making people feel safer in their community, he gives the assurance that the government is working for them by hitting them on the points where most of us would feel the effects immediately. Notwithstanding the previous administration’s economic gains, the sad reality is that only a few Filipinos felt an improvement in their spending power. Most people felt that it is more important to feel safer than having an increase in their money spending.
It is also important to note the emphasis that President Duterte stated that his adherence to the law is uncompromising. His emphasis on his knowledge on the limits of the President’s power and on what is legal was met with applause. He definitely gave the assurance that his actions will remain within the bounds of Philippine laws. I liked the way he ended it by saying that he would mind what he needs to do and other agencies should mind what they also need to do.
His call of actions were designed to address where the typical Filipino is burdened when dealing with the government. I like the fact that he emphasized on making things easy for every Juan dela Cruz when they transact with the government. Our office fell victim to one government agency where our representative had to go back and forth for two weeks just to fix our papers. This was because the government employees who assisted did not give full instructions the first time and the next and the next. It is disappointing that we had to go through the process for two weeks when we could have easily fixed everything in one or two days easily. I am glad that Duterte recognizes the need to keep everything simple for the Filipinos.
Transparency in the government is crucial in the quest to restore the Filipino faith in our government. Previous administrations have kept us all blind with their secrecy that we always had doubts on every government program or project. Why? We do not have access to the basic information that will shed light to it. This time, it is going to be different. We can easily access public documents that will keep us informed in government dealings.
He bannered on the slogan of “Tunay na Pagbabago” during his campaign period. It was this call to action that people held on as the very same people propelled him to the Presidency. And now he calls on everyone to participate in this move for change. He said it clearly that the change starts in and within us. A change that can only be driven by one’s love for country and love for Filipinos, the same love that brought President Duterte to where he is now.
Mabuhay si Presidente Duterte!