NEW YORK (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo urged the public to speak out against the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Robredo made the remarks in a press briefing in Pennsylvania on Saturday, August 6 (Sunday, August 7 in Manila). She had delivered a speech at the 12th National Empowerment Conference of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.
From extrajudicial killings in the Philippines to the runaway truck that mowed down revelers in Nice, France, to the madman who stabbed 19 dead in a disabled facility in Japan and the gunman who opened fire outside a McDonald’s in Munich, Germany – a paroxysm of bloodletting has seemingly broken out.
You can also probably add the ravings of Donald Trump in lumping Filipino immigrants to the United States with the scourge of terrorism.
“If you look at the rest of the world, this is a global phenomenon right now. There is a 'culture of hatred' going on. It’s scary,” Robredo said.
She feels there is a link between the rash of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and a mood of escalating violence whose harsh tones can be seen in reactions on social media cheering the blood lust which has already claimed hundreds of lives in the country.
The Vice President has repeatedly condemned the extrajudicial killings being reported across the Philippines.
Public outcry not there yet
"There have been a few voices already out there against extrajudicial killings, but I think that public outcry is not there yet," Robredo said in the press briefing. "I think all of us should do our share in making sure that this has to stop."
The extrajudicial killings have been linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Hundreds of alleged drug suspects have also been killed during police operations. (READ: Extrajudicial killings won't win war vs drugs – analyst)
"Ito kapag hindi enough ang public outcry (If public outcry is not enough), it brings about a sense of hopelessness and you think to yourself, 'Is this really what the majority wants?'" Robredo said.
"Kasi kung ito ang gusto natin, iyong mga ayaw noon dapat matakot. Pero kung hindi naman ito ang gusto natin at marami lang sa atin ang hindi bumoboses, then we are not doing enough."
(Because if this is what the majority want, those who do not want it should be afraid. But if this is not what we want and many of us are just not speaking out, then we are not doing enough.)
"It it scary in the sense that maraming nangyayari pero kaunti ang outrage," she added.
(It is scary in the sense that there are many extrajudicial killings happening, but there's little outrage.)
Robredo called on Filipinos to end what she described as a "culture of hatred."
"There is already a pervading culture of impunity, and not only that, but if you look at social media, it also seems like there is a culture of hatred already. I think this started during the campaign period," the Vice President said. (READ: Election-related human rights violations rampant online – CHR)
"Parang hindi naman tayo ganito and you will ask yourselves, saan ba tayo... (I think the Filipino people are really not like this, and you will ask yourselves, where are we headed)? But if you also look at the rest of the world, it seems that we are not alone in this. Parang (It seems) there is a global phenomenon right now that there is really a culture of hatred going around, but we should not feel helpless."
Robredo noted that Duterte has pledged that the rule of law “will be honored” but that seems to have little effect on the death squads in the Philippines.
“It’s very different now,” Robredo said of Philippine society.
She feels media and news organizations in the country will be needed to help raise awareness among Filipinos about the issue of extrajudicial killings and it would not be enough for officials like her or the Catholic educators in Ateneo or La Salle to be left dangling in calling the government to account over it.
But the threat of being killed in the streets has kept many quiet, and others are plainly thinking “it’s just drug dealers” and in the process providing tacit support for the murders.
Last month, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said extrajudicial killings "have to stop."
In Duterte's first State of the Nation Address, the President also vowed to uphold human rights, amid criticism that he is "condoning" summary executions. (READ: SONA 2016: CHR welcomes Duterte vow to 'protect human rights')
Duterte added that social justice will be pursued, "even as the rule of law shall at all times prevail." (READ: Global group of judges, lawyers to Duterte: Probe drug-related killings) – with reports from Rene Pastor/Rappler.com