Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jan 2017
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2017
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


In war, there is collateral damage. In the case of the vicious war on
illegal drugs, President Duterte acknowledged last week that there have
been "unintended killings" that have claimed the lives of innocents
including children. In fact practically everyone killed in the drug war
was legally innocent since guilt beyond reasonable doubt was never
established in court, and most of the slain weren't even indicted.

For the unintended killings, the President said he's sorry, although he
made it clear that it would not stop his relentless war. Such a cavalier
attitude toward human life is likely to rub off on the forces fighting the
drug menace, making them careless about hitting innocents in the
crossfire. It can encourage them to continue disregarding laws and rules
on armed confrontations and the conduct of arrests and searches.

The forces of the Marcos dictatorship at least went through the motions of
presenting arrest, search and seizure orders -- the dreaded ASSO -- that
were used to crush political dissent. These days, police -- and masked
vigilantes who may also be lawmen -- simply enter neighborhoods and
private homes and start shooting, unmindful if toddlers are caught in the

Sorry, even from the president of the republic, isn't enough for those who
have lost their children in the course of Oplan Tokhang. The bereaved need
justice, which starts with competent investigation and the arrest of the
killers. The government must show that the rule of law still prevails in
this country and that there is justice for rich and poor alike.

Every "unintended killing" must be investigated and the killer brought to
justice. Law enforcers cannot just keep saying "oops!" each time they pull
the trigger and hit the wrong target. They must be reminded that under
most circumstances, they must first aim to disable rather than kill, and
not the other way around.

In armed police operations, utmost care is required particularly when
children are around. Callous disregard for human life can only erode
public support for the police in its bloody campaign against the drug
menace, especially when cases of "unintended killings" soar and more
children become collateral damage.
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