Pubdate: Sat, 27 Aug 2016
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Column: Search for Truth
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2016
Author: Ernesto P. Maceda, Jr.


The latest casualty in the administration's "war" against drugs is 
tiny Danica May Garcia, all of five years old. Danica May, young 
Rowena Tiamson, 22; Jefferson Buhain, 20; Roman Clifford Manaois, 20, 
have all paid the ultimate price for an illegal drug trade that was 
allowed to prosper unabated by previous administrations.

These innocents have been categorized as "collateral damage." To 
dehumanize them so in the effort to play down the accountability of 
those responsible is really to watch them die twice.

They and the countless children killed, wounded, traumatized and 
orphaned are not incidental casualties. They are real victims.

The justification invoked for a war on drugs is to save our children. 
The unfortunate irony is that, by their actions, the well intentioned 
have actually heightened the exposure of our young people to danger. 
We are supposed to be saving them, not killing them.

Open Season. The scale of the deaths connected to illegal drugs is 
unprecedented in our history.

At 1,900 plus, with almost half actually acknowledged by the PNP as 
resulting from their official operations, we are actually on pace to 
match or even surpass Thailand's 2003 record of 2,800 drug related 
killings in the first three months of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The death toll actually speaks for itself.

The illegal drug trade has exploded in the country.

But the remedial effort now being undertaken - successfully in the 
eyes of many - begs the question: why only now? The seeming overnight 
success of operations clearly shows that no prolonged intelligence 
gathering was needed to establish who the culprits were. The law 
enforcement officials were plainly aware of the identity of their targets.

The true menace to society is not so much the drug pusher but the law 
enforcement personnel who provides the protection needed for the 
trade to flourish.

Drug lords do not owe us anything.

It is the officers of the law who swore public oaths and are paid by 
the people that owe us everything.

"The government is not doing what its supposed to do. Hence, it is no 
longer a legitimate government. Its laws, therefore, are not entitled 
to respect." This is the excuse of the Vigilante. But what is the 
excuse of the very government officers who are supposed to properly 
carry out the law? In what world or alternative dimension is it 
acceptable to use their own inability as an excuse to clothe 
themselves with impunity in doing the job they were supposed to do in 
the first place?

And can we pause for a reality check?

How long is the public expected to suspend disbelief at the 
self-defense, nanlaban sila theory and the supposed lack of 
connection between the policemen enforcers and their victims?

Think "dead men tell no tales."

I am certainly not one of those attributing to the President and 
General Bato directly the spate of Extra Judicial Killings (although 
Senator de Lima has a point when she concedes that these EJKs are "if 
not State-sanctioned, then State-inspired"). Don Quixote de Duterte 
and Sancho Panza de la Rosa have done the right thing by going after 
the perceived drug protectors in government. From their opening salvo 
against the alleged narco generals to their latest unorthodox efforts 
to unmask the higher positioned government syndicates responsible, 
they clearly see where the real cancer to society lies. The sooner 
they get to this part of their internal cleansing, the quicker I 
believe we will see the body count taper off.

Speaking of collateral damage: "Whenever men take the law into their 
own hands, the loser is the law. And when the law loses, freedom 
languishes." Thank you Robert F. Kennedy.

PRRD against the world.

An interesting sidelight to the PRRD vs. UN Rapporteurs word war is 
the fact that in the U.N. drug conventions (latest is 1988), the 
language used has been depicted as crusading e.g. the drug menace as 
a "danger of incalculable gravity" which warrants resolute action.

Nowhere in these conventions which are, incidentally, part of 
international law does the obligation to respect human rights even appear.

This has arguably contributed to the culture where state members' 
efforts to combat drugs have become impervious to human rights.

The PRRD vs. US fight is more interesting. Our President's favorite 
sumbat or taunt in response to the constant outcry on his human 
rights record is the US own treatment of its African-American 
population. This is not exactly appropriate as the isolated cases of 
racial bias by police officers is not carried out as an official 
government policy unlike PRRD's shoot to kill orders.

But he has a point that the US does not have the ascendancy to berate 
anybody. Routinely, not just in the war against terror but also in 
the war against drugs, the United States Government officially 
sanctions extra judicial killings or assassinations. One example is a 
Pentagon announcement in 2009 that 50 drug traffickers from 
Afghanistan had been placed on a list of people to be captured dead or alive.

The official language used, I believe, is "to be killed or captured." 
To be sure, the war against terror is a species of international 
armed conflict specially when perpetrated by governments or armed 
groups. Hence, different rules may be said to apply.

But drug lords and their apprehension are still properly the province 
of a country's law enforcement network.

In this context, it is the berator that should be berated.

Federalism tidbits.

Isn't it strange that notwithstanding the early rhetoric and the 
alacrity with which the proposals have come down, the 2017 budget 
does not contain any provision for either the Constituent Assembly or 
Constitutional Convention? It also lacks provisions for 
pre-federalism shift expenditures. Nonetheless, the HoR has already 
adopted a leadership structure that mirrors the federal plan of the 
Pimentel proposal by appointing, for the first time in history, 
deputy speakers representing each of the proposed 12 federal states.

Of course, every one of these offices carries with it additional 
budget and plantilla from our pockets.

The House leadership is keeping a straight face in carrying out this 
innovation despite the expressed Presidential policy directive of 
trimming bureaucracy. In his budget message to Congress, PRRD states: 
"I would ask authority from Congress to eliminate redundant, 
duplicative and overlapping functions and organizations in the 
executive branch." This is the legislative branch's response.

A clear case of separation of powers ... of comprehension.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom