FEAR came, not change.
If there were anything obvious in this regime of President Rodrigo Duterte, that change would be from bad to worse.
A survey conducted in June 2017 by national polling firm Social Weather Stations revealed that 73 per cent or seven in ten adult Filipinos are “worried” they, or someone they know, would be victims of extrajudicial killings in relation to the government’s war against drugs.
In times of the brutal deaths of teenagers like Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, the escalating terror of Filipinos is evidently real and alarming. But who can blame the masses if, almost every day, they witness people left dead on streets with gunshot wounds.
Witnesses and families of these victims tell similar narratives: the victim was abducted and the lifeless body would later be found dumped somewhere; that the victim was innocent and was never involved with drugs, they would add.
And the police, every time, would tell a different story: the victim was armed and had to be shot. Killing was for self-defense.
The rising number of extrajudicial killings, which the administration keeps on masking as homicide, clearly gave 73 percent of Filipinos the notion that it is no longer safe in the country.
I personally do not feel as safe as I did before. I am terrified to walk the streets soon after it gets dark, even if it is as early as 5 p.m.
The “bloodless campaign” against drugs is, if not a bluff, a complete failure. Duterte has yet to flinch even with more than 13,000 Filipinos already killed during his term.
Latest fatalities, or what Duterte shamelessly calls “collateral damage,” are the youth, the innocent who are supposed to be in school. With less than five years left in his term, there is no sign of him doing something to stop vigilantes and police from conducting irresponsible drug raids and operations.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), cozy behind the “nanlaban ang biktima kaya pinatay” excuse, should be purged of misdirected officers, and should start evoking safety instead of fear.
After all, the police are supposed “to serve and protect” the masses, not execute them.
And while PNP data show that all other forms of crime dropped by 9.8 percent during Duterte’s first year in office, killings significantly rose by 22.75 percent.
This raises questions on where Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano based his remarks when he said the Philippines has become a “little bit safer” under Duterte.
Duterte, as if numb, still deliberately fails to listen to anyone crying out “due process” for all the victims of his campaign, whether they are international human rights groups, politicians, activists or the families of those killed mercilessly.
While the budget for the total abolition of drug use in the country ballooned to not less than P200 billion (P111.6 billion for the PNP; P1.8 billion for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency; P125.1 million for the Dangerous Drugs Board; P2.5 billion for the Office of the President’s Confidential and Intelligence Funds; P793.7 million for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; P2.6 billion for the Department of Health Treatment and Rehabilitation Center), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which continues to lobby and fight for the rights of the victims of the extrajudicial killings, has been given by the House of Representatives a budget of only a thousand pesos from the proposed P649.484 million—as if the commission does not have a function to fulfill for the country’s people!
Insulted, humiliated and rendered useless, the commission would be ineffective of its supposed operations in 2018. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a known ally of Duterte, even initially wanted a zero budget for the CHR, and hinted he wants the constitutional body abolished.
Simply put, the Philippines has become a scary, dangerous place, and the last thing the country needs is an administration insensitive to life and human rights, one that lets its people live in fear.