Duterte: The Grinch who stole our Christmas


CHRISTMAS has always been a celebration of love and life but for President Duterte, it is a convenient time to resume the bloody war on drugs.

The number of extrajudicial killings in the country is still rising and will probably continue to rise as President Duterte has restored the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the helm of its campaign against illegal drugs.

Not to mention the presence of “vigilante killers” around the corners doing for the PNP it dirty work.

Under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), only one death was recorded in the conduct of its anti-illegal drugs operations. Over P100 million worth of illegal drugs have been recovered since Oct. 12.

The President seems to think PDEA lacked the grit for the job. With some 4,000 fatalities, the police must be passionate enough to impress him.

Last Dec. 5, President Duterte signed the Memorandum Order 17, directing the PNP to give “active support” to PDEA in the operations against illegal drugs.

The PNP has now resumed the drug war’s flagship campaigns “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double-Barrel” which aim to visit the houses of drug users and peddlers and ask them to surrender and change for the better.

How can the police who “accidentally” killed three children and treated them as “collateral damage,” who “blindly” fired at lone suspects when there are more of them, who cannot hold themselves accountable for their mistakes be trusted to deliver justice?

But President Duterte has repeatedly shrugged off local and international human rights groups condemning the police abuses in his administration’s anti-drug campaign. He tried to acknowledge the rising opposition two months ago by hauling off the police from the operations.

However, like the January suspension, after police were involved in the murder of a South Korean businessman, Duterte retaliated and resumed the bloody business.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) officials hit the Philippine government’s lack of efforts to hold the police accountable for abuses in the course of the drug wars.

During the 16th Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute in the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the International Criminal Court should leave the country alone in its war against drugs. He said critics of the Duterte administration were using the court as an avenue to “destabilize governments an undermine legitimate national authorities.”

But it is only right forsectors to hold the government accountable. A government that does not recognize checks and balance is self-serving and prone to error.

President Duterte said he resumed the drug war due to public demand. But HRW Asia deputy director Phelim Kine said the alleged clamor is unlikely to come from “Manila’s urban poor areas, the epicenter of the killing zones.”

“This effective ‘war on the poor’ may constitute crimes against humanity,” Kine said in a statement.

He said the majority of the estimated 12,000 victims of drug-related killings are urban
poor dwellers.

Whatever the estimates of the casualties of the drug wars, it is logical to believe that with
the return of the PNP in the forefront of the drug wars, the estimates would increase.

The countdown would extend far beyond Christmas and even the new year.

In short, it’s going to be a grim Christmas. Now we know the identity of the Grinch
who stole Christmas.


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