Talk to NPA rebels on local grievances
IF PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has faith in the Filipino – we think he still does — he should be willing to give all citizens, including drug-users in poverty-stricken areas, a chance to live and mend their ways.
After all, President Duterte’s rallying cry for this anguished nation of more than 100 million (3.7 million of whom, he said, are drug addicts) is “Change!”
Since the President apparently believes in the Filipino’s desire and capacity for positive change, he should order the police to stop killing suspected drug-users on the lame excuse that they fought back.
Duterte should also order the vigilante component of his anti-narcotics drive to stop the execution by “riding in tandem” assassins, the wrapping of cadavers in masking tape, and the placing of “Huwag Tularan” (“Don’t Imitate Me”) cardboards over the corpses.
Even in death, every Filipino, from the lowliest squatter to the haughtiest dictator, deserves respect.
“I’m not a killer!” the President pleads, although we doubt if his words would stem the growing impression that the extrajudicial killings are upon his implied instructions. Reports of his boasting of having executed some criminals himself have magnified the legend.
Hordes of drug users turned themselves in after the President’s “Kill ‘em” threats scared them. It does not speak well of his administration that some “addicts” were still shot dead in their hovels after giving up.
The President should make it a point to punish any policeman who kills, injures or threatens anyone who had surrendered and, in effect, placed himself at the mercy of the government.
The families of post-surrender victims of police execution should be compensated quickly without their having to spend for claims or litigation.
■ Spend for rehab of narco patients
ON THE POSITIVE side, the President should quickly step up rehabilitation, spending even just a fraction of the billions used for harassing and killing imagined enemies.
Drug dependents should be treated as patients under a holistic rehab program. The administration should drop the crazy notion that “addicts” are criminals who do not deserve a second chance and must be killed to end their misery.
It was unseemly for the President himself to have called out the other day to drug-users: “Take tranquilizers or hang yourself!”
Aside from these weird options, he advised them to just stay home to avoid arrest. Maybe the President has not noticed that even those who had surrendered and stayed home were still hunted down and killed (silenced?).
In his speech Tuesday before flying to Cambodia, Duterte said he would use part of the P5 billion given him by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to buy medicines for drug dependents.
He said: “You can buy your medicines. For example, the tranquilizers, the medicines that would keep you calm, medicines that would restore your sanity if it can still be restored. You just stay in the house and I will order the medical workers to go around.”
No clear details were given, leaving the public wondering what well-studied programs are there for rehabilitation, and who are the administrators and experts who will attend to the dependents looking forward to turning a new leaf.
Duterte blurted out in his usual stream-of-consciousness style: “Ngayon, ‘pag talagang loko-loko na, tapos walang alibyo na ang katawan, hindi na masauli, nagpadala rin ako ng mga lubid. Magbigti lang kayong mga pu**** in*!
(“For those who have gone crazy and can no longer be cured, I’ll send you ropes. Just hang yourselves, sons of bi****s!”) One wonders if he is after their eventual rehabilitation or their final demise.
■ It’s official: The President is sick!
WE LIKE to think, however, that the President will come around to understanding better the situation of the poor millions trapped in drug dependence, because he himself knows how it is to be sick.
In a business forum in Malacañang last Tuesday, Duterte suddenly started talking about his health while commenting on rumored plans to oust him. The 72-year-old Chief Executive said: “Oust me, good. Assassinate me, better. I have this migraine every day.”
He then mentioned his painful back: “My doctor would want to operate, but you know my wife was a nurse and she used to work in the States, United States, and she said, since a lot of operations for the spinal that went awry, that went wrong…. (He was referring to his partner Honeylet Avanceña.)
“So that if you guys see me always with a sad mode, I am actually pushing a nerve here to relieve the pain.” (He turned to show where he pressed the nerve point on one side of his head.)
Duterte said that he was using Fentanyl, described as a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller used by cancer patients. (But he clarified he was not suffering from cancer.)
He said his doctor once advised against abusing it: “I was only given a fourth of that square thing. There was a time that if I took two… Of course, my doctor learned that I was using the whole patch, because I felt better.
“When he knew it, he made me stop, and he said, stop it. The first thing that you would lose is your cognitive ability.”
Duterte clarified that he had no cancer: “Don’t believe in cancer. What I have is really Buerger’s disease. It’s an acquired thing that you get from smoking because of nicotine. Nicotine constricts the vessel. Alcohol dilates the vessel.”
Instead of the President rambling on like that, Malacañang should issue a medical bulletin on the state of the President’s health.
A businessman in the meeting suggested acupuncture to soothe the pain caused by his spinal problem. We are waiting for the solicitous Chinese ambassador to talk to him about this, before the US ambassador beats him with an offer to seek treatment in the US.