Imagine you have a son and he’s a Boy Scout. He’s around 7-10 years old, a time when he’s at his most impressionable.
He attends an event in Malacañang where he gets to see the President of the Philippines. He’s excited; there’s wonder in his eyes.
He sits there, and President Rodrigo Duterte tells him “Sabi nga nila pumapatay daw ako ng tao. Talagang pumapatay ako ng tao, 'pag ginalaw ninyo ang mga anak namin.” (They say I kill people. I really kill people if they destroy our children.)
Your young son knows that killing is a topic that is sometimes taboo, sometimes okay. It’s not discussed in school, but he sees it everywhere, from movies to TV, to the internet (no matter how much you shield him.) Up until now, he gets the idea that killing is a sensitive issue. Sometimes it scares him, but generally he’s very curious.
But he's told no less than by the President himself, right at the seat of power, that he's going to kill for him.
Your son's take-away: It’s okay to use guns. It’s okay to throw people in Manila Bay. It’s okay to kill.
No one has told your son that killing can take many forms – it can be moral and immoral.
It can be a punishment meted out by a justice system.
It can be a vigilante type of justice that is premised on the inability of the government to protect its people from abuse and oppression.
It can be a state-sponsored extrajudicial killing that takes people’s lives outside of the law.
There’s the rido kind that is premised on an eye-for-an-eye and a clan’s honor.
There’s death at the hands of a cold-blooded killer or a homicidal one.
Men and women studying law and justice have struggled through the ages to understand the moral dimensions of killing in all stages of human society – during times of war and peace, and all the times in between like political turmoil, riots, famines, plagues, and revolts.
Lawmakers around the world have plumbed the depths of this contentious and divisive issue, yet the President, in one fell swoop, oversimplified that moral question and left an indelible imprint on these children’s souls: You can kill in the name of the drug war.
But another kid takes the message a step further: “I’ll become a soldier. I will kill rebels.” The President's remarks made no mention of rebels and killing them, but in the mind of this young Boy Scout, rebels are the same as drug pushers.
Duterte goes on to drive home the point that the Juvenile Delinquency Act of 2006, which he said brought up the age of criminal responsibility to 15, has inflicted a "generation of criminals" on Filipinos. He says, "Whatever you do, even if you kill, rape, or steal or rape with homicide, when your mother comes, you go home."
He wants the age of criminal responsibility lowered to 9, the age of the kids in front of him.
By convention, Duterte, as the incumbent, is Chief Scout, but his behavior is anathema to the values the Scout movement holds dear.
What moral conflicts did his words create in these young fragile minds?
We hope the Boy Scouts of the Philippines finds the presence of mind to seek psychological counseling for these young boys.
What could be worse than the creeping sense of lawlessness gripping our society today? A certainty that the barbarism behind the war on drugs will live on to the days of our children.
For that matter, each time the President talks about killing, we can assume millions of young minds can hear his broadcasts on TV, radio and the internet.
Are we creating a future generation of callous, unthinking, unfeeling, morally ambiguous people with an unshakeable belief in the barrel of a gun?
Are we bringing up a generation of Cains, ready to kill or turn a blind eye to the slaughter of their drug addict brothers? And by extension, like the Boy Scout, why not kill the rebels as well, the non-conformists, the pundits?
This Holy Week, we will hear the verse, “Blessed are the pure in spirit for they shall see God.”
Last weekend, over a hundred of these pure spirits saw a man play God. – Rappler.com