[OPINION] Violence begets violence

August 24, 2017 at 13:07

Violence begets violence

What worries me most with our current situation is that violence begets violence. The PNP is getting really reckless. They apparently misunderstood the President when he said he will protect them. The President himself clarified last Monday evening that if police officers violate the law, they must suffer the consequences.

The Kian de los Santos case must have stunned the President too. “Nung nakita ko yung tape tinawagan ko si (PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa). Sabi ko hulihin ninyo na at ikulong ninyo,” he said in a press conference. It is about time the President realized how badly things have become.

This is no longer a war on drugs. This is a war against our poor people. And with the exception of a couple of high profile mayors, 99 percent of those killed in this supposed anti-drug drive are poor people from poor crowded neighborhoods.

“They say, ‘Duterte kills the poor.’ I haven’t heard of the children of Lucio Tan or Gokongwei selling drugs,” the President said in a speech… “Of course it will be the poor people, because the poor are ignorant and more likely to be hit.”As one government prosecutor said in an attempt to politicize Kian’s killing, they are like cockroaches and must be killed.

But they are not cockroaches. They are people with body and soul. They were created by the same God we worship. They have as much right to live in this world as their killers. Genesis 4:10 comes to mind: The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.”

People are being killed because the President believes the government will win the drug war by killing those who sell drugs at the retail level. But even the President is starting to realize something is wrong with his approach. But he is not changing course.

Tama ‘yan silang mga kritiko ko. ‘Eh sabi mo, nung nag-Presidente ka, three to six months.’ Hindi ko alam pagpasok ko, eh Davao lang kasi ako. So ang template ko Davao,” the former Davao City mayor said.

Then there is the problem of police officers in the drug trade. “Ang mga generals na pulis nandiyan. Tapos ang mga Bureau of Customs, ‘yung ahensya na inaasahan ko. ‘Yung pulis, p**** i** nasa droga. So how can I succeed even if you give me the whole of my term?” he said.

People at the grassroots are starting to look at the police with fear and contempt. They do not understand why they are being singled out for summary execution on mere suspicion… while police officers are given the benefit of the doubt.

That’s the other thing I am worried about. People feel helpless and want protection. Some also want revenge. Who will deliver for them? Let us take some lessons from history.

When the police and the armed forces lost the people’s trust during the Marcos dictatorship because of massive human rights violations, the armed communist rebellion took notice and deployed their hit squads called sparrow units.

Today, the masa already views the police with suspicion and they know they cannot get justice from government. This is why it is not enough for the President to denounce the bad cops who he said are causing government to lose its credibility among the people. Erring police officers must be punished… and quickly too.

Otherwise, aggrieved people will turn to the NPA and their sparrow units to dispense “revolutionary justice” causing more bloodshed in the streets. Now that the peace talks have broken down and hostilities have resumed, this is how the NPA can make itself relevant.

No one wants an escalation of violence. It will make us look like a Latin American banana republic. No one will feel secure. The rich will squirrel away capital abroad because they feel unsafe. The economy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of fear.

The President must realize that in the end, the current killing strategy will leave us no better off in the drug situation. The President is concentrating on the wrong end of the problem. He is trying to cut demand from below. It may be easier to address supply, specially because the largest source of shabu is turning out to be China.

Isn’t the President the new darling of Xi Jinping? Why is the President not publicly calling on China to help by stopping the shipment of shabu to this country from Chinese sources? Is the President afraid to ask Xi Jinping because he may be misinterpreted as accusing China of complicity in the international drug trade?

If China wants to stop those shipments, of course China can. After all, China’s government is all powerful… and they have a death penalty for drug offenses.

Indeed, Xi Jinping is probably the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. The Chinese leader’s anti-corruption drive is awe-inspiring.  He has sent many powerful Chinese officials and rich businessmen to jail and their ill-gotten wealth confiscated. He can deal with drug lords.

Surely, China’s domestic intelligence is more efficient than ours and they surely know the source of the shabu being exported to the Philippines. If they are our newfound friends that they claim to be, they can prove it by shutting off the supply faucet.

Back here, I know where our President is coming from. He has ordered the police to kill drug suspects because he himself has lost confidence in our judicial system. He has said so himself.

In some of his ramblings, he described our justice system as slow, inefficient and corrupt. He wants a justice system where punishments are severe, swift and certain… and this resonates with a good number of Filpinos tired of the mayhem.

But the President generated unintended consequences by telling the police to simply kill and they took him literally. The storyline about the “nanlaban kasi” is right off the President’s playbook. He has said so himself in a number of speeches how to justify their kills.

The President’s media handlers have time and again advised us not to take the President at his words. Maybe he was just being theatrical when he said the police can kill and he will just pardon them in the end. He gave the impression the police can do no wrong.

No wonder few believed the claim of the police that Kian had a gun and tried to fight back. As they would say it in the streets, kumita na yan sa takilya. People know the police reputation of planting evidence.

The other big worry I have is that the PNP is being seriously damaged as an institution. How safe can citizens feel with a national police that believes it had been authorized to be police, judge and executioner? And this is a police force which, according to the President himself, is full of hoodlums in uniform. True, he cursed them publicly last Monday, but will any officer get punished soon?

We can forget foreign investors if we get the reputation of being a country where anyone can be killed and the police can claim a drug bust. Investors want stability. Investors want rule of law. They don’t want the law of the jungle.

Kian’s case has awakened many in our communities, even the President, it seems. But it isn’t the tipping point some politicians hope. Partisans from all sides should stop politicizing it.

Soon Kian will become a memory and just another number in the statistics of this drug war. But how the President handles this case is important.

The poor may seem meek but when they feel they are being unjustly killed like cockroaches, they will seek revenge… it’s simply human nature and it’s in our culture. If our judicial system fails them, they will seek redress elsewhere. And the cycle of violence will go on because violence begets violence. It will eat us all.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/08/23/1731674/violence-begets-violence

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