#AnimatED: Blood on our streets
“As a lawyer and a former prosecutor… I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, inaugural speech, June 30, 2016
Yet days after President Duterte said these words, dozens of suspected drug traffickers and users were killed, a continuing trend in the Philippines, widely seen as the main response of the new president toward reducing drug-related criminality.
In fact, in the first 6 weeks after the elections, The Economist tabulates that the police shot dead suspected drug dealers and users “at the rate of nine a week, over four times the rate in the preceding four months.”
Overall, since May, police have confirmed that more than 100 have been killed in this take-no-prisoners campaign against drugs.
The police have the full support of Duterte. He assured them during the change-of-command ceremony in Camp Crame, the day after he took over the helm of government: "Do your duty – and if, in the process, you kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty – I will protect you.”
Duterte’s war on drugs is leaving blood on our streets and violating, in his own words, “due process” and the “rule of law.” Don’t these suspects deserve their day in court?
As leading human rights advocate Juan Manuel Diokno pointedly asked, “Do we really want to give the man with the gun the power to judge who are criminals and to kill them? To decide who is bad and who is good, who deserves to live and who deserves to die?
We are alarmed by this unrelenting trend. If unchecked, it will lead to abuses and erode the foundations of our democracy, cherished values we have fought for since the dark years of martial law.
It is time Duterte learn from the experiences of other countries, starting with our neighbor Thailand. In 2003, when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched a war on drugs, close to 3,000 were summarily killed in the first 3 months of the campaign. An official investigation later found, however, that more than half were not related to drugs.
In Latin America, 3 countries that have been fighting the drug trade – Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia – are rethinking strategies. “A war that has been fought for more than 40 years has not been won,” President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia said. “When you do something for 40 years and it doesn’t work, you need to change it.”
Duterte has still time to shift gears before it its too late and the country gets mired in rivers of blood. – Rappler.com