Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jul 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines)
Copyright: 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer
Author: Carlos Isles


GOOGLE defines pogrom as an organized massacre of a particular ethnic 
group, particularly the Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe in 
1881-1884. The word is synonymous with massacre, slaughter, carnage, 
bloodbath without due process.

Although not exactly similar in reach, intensity and wickedness, 
there is little difference between the Russian pogrom and the Duterte 
administration's ongoing campaign against those engaged in illegal 
drugs in their disregard for the sacredness of human life and lack of 
due process.

Lately, various media outlets estimate that around 300 suspected drug 
addicts have already been killed by policemen and vigilante groups in 
various parts of the country since President Duterte's inauguration 
last June 30, 2016. The deaths have a familiar ring to it-the victims 
engaged the police in a shootout; they grabbed the gun of a cop or 
they tried to escape. One incredible aspect of this narrative is that 
hardly any cop has died in the process. Parati na lang ang drug 
addicts ang namamatay, hello?

Life is God's most precious gift to a human being. Because life is a 
gift, nobody has a right to snuff it out without just reasons. True, 
members of drug syndicates harm the nation and destroy the young. But 
many of them are themselves victims of even more pernicious 
conditions-poverty and marginalization from mainstream society.

Small-time drug addicts killed without due process further victimizes 
those who are already victims of their unspeakable poverty. 
Furthermore, the killing of poor drug users smells of selective 
justice when alleged big patrons and coddlers of drug syndicates like 
police generals are accorded an audience by the chief of the 
Philippine National Police and assured of fair investigation. A 
similar "special treatment" is given to jailed Chinese drug lords-to 
live one more day, courtesy of the President who warned them to stay 
put inside "Munti," otherwise they would be killed if they venture 
out of prison.

In the meantime the lowlife drug users are banished from the land of 
the living with dispatch! Ano ba ito? Palakasan?

President Duterte is called "The Punisher." But now that the number 
of drug addicts killed continues to rise, should it be more 
appropriate to call him "The Exterminator?"

Once again, Our Lord's words: "I have come that they may have life 
and have it in abundance" (John 10:10). How I wish that the Duterte 
presidency would be known more for extending lives rather than 
shortening it by murdering the people who most need his care.

Extending life means establishing around the country counseling 
centers manned by competent staff (psychologists, psychiatrists, 
marriage counselors, spiritual advisers, etc.) equipped with the 
tools they need to shepherd drug dependents on the road to wellness. 
It is plain naivete to think that a mere promise to stop using drugs, 
without the necessary psychosocial programs, will help drug 
dependents kick their bad habit.

Medical professionals dealing with drug dependents will attest to the 
fact that not even fear of death can snatch a person whose brain has 
been seared by drugs from this deadly habit. Only a sensible program 
of rehabilitation can give them a fighting chance to begin a new life.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom