POSTSCRIPT / June 21, 2016 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Extrajudicial killings ‘okay’ with Aquino?

UNLESS he says otherwise, we take the silence of President Noynoy Aquino as his tacit approval of the extrajudicial execution of suspected criminals by the authorities and vigilantes.

President Aquino is and will still be the Chief Executive until noon of June 30. If he disapproves of the ongoing killing spree staining the dying days of his term, he should say so in clear, strong language – and act accordingly.

Today and every single day on the President’s six-year watch, he cannot shirk from his solemn oath under the Constitution, his hand on the Bible, to execute the law and do justice to very man.

Our fear, however, is that President Aquino may have been intimidated into looking the other way and keeping quiet by the tough talk and the 16.6-million-vote mandate of his incoming replacement, Davao Mayor Rody Duterte of a rival party.

Now if the President himself is afraid to speak on behalf of law, of due process and human rights – of life itself — what can the rest of us do? Resign to whatever is coming under the Duterte dispensation?

As we saw last May 9, resignation, or acceptance of whatever change is coming, comes easily when people have suffered too long under crime and corruption.

Even those who are leery of demagogic rhetoric may yet accept the proposed “change” if the new rules are outlined more clearly, a well-thought out action plan presented, and human rights respected.

How do we explain the summary execution of suspected shabu peddlers while the major manufacturers and suppliers of prohibited drugs are left untouched or, if caught, given the benefit of due process that is denied their runners?

Why the unequal application of rules, procedures and penalties?

Why are petty suspects denied their right to presumption of innocence and gunned down on mere suspicion — while big-time criminals, including plunderers and grafters in government, are given their day in court where their guilt has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt?

These questions are NOT being addressed to Mayor Duterte, but to President Aquino.

In the same manner, it is incumbent PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez and not his coming replacement Chief Supt. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa who should explain the very high kill ratio in the suddenly energized police anti-crime campaign.

There has been an unusual rise in the killing of suspects during police operations. Around 45 persons have been slain since Duterte won the May 9 presidential election. That is a bloody record of more than one kill per day.

That phenomenal spike has given rise to speculation that some of the drug peddlers killed were actually “assets” silenced by their police handlers who are cleaning up in anticipation of the coming crackdown on complicit officers.

• Du30 can do it in 3 months, not 6?

ACTUALLY Duterte can rid the country of illegal drugs not in six months but in just three, according to Mayor Bon Alejandrino of Arayat, Pampanga.

The no-nonsense mayor, a former “supremo” of the outlawed Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan  (HMB), has a forceful administrative style similar to Duterte’s.

He is a descendant of Gen. Jose Alejandrino, a renowned revolutionary in the Spanish era who became the first military governor of Pampanga at the turn of the century and later became senator.

To illustrate that a shorter anti-illegal drugs campaign is feasible, Alejandrino shared in a forum at the Clark Freeport last Friday with the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) his own experience in Arayat.

As mayor he has issued an ultimatum to all 30 barangay chairmen in his town to lick the illegal drugs problem in their areas by July 30 — or resign! He said he expects 100-percent compliance.

“I told them to resign if they are not able to comply with my directive,” Alejandrino was quoted by PhilSTAR correspondent and CAMI board member Ding Cervantes as saying.

Ding recalled that when Alejandrino first assumed office in 2013, illegal drugs were being sold “like candies” throughout Arayat. The problem has significantly been reduced, the mayor said, and will be wiped out by July 30.

Alejandrino said Duterte as president could also issue a three-month deadline to all barangay chairs throughout the country with a similar challenge for them to resign should they fail.

The former HMB boss is credited for having brought peace and order, as well as discipline, to his town at the foot of 1,026-meter-high Mt. Arayat known for decades as a hotbed of political dissent and, later, killings.

The mayor admitted that there have been slayings in Arayat, but that the victims were known criminals and not innocent civilians. He denied accusations that he was behind some of the killings.

Alejandrino said vigilantes could be responsible for the murder a week ago of an allegedly notorious drug pusher in the town’s Plaza Luma. The victim was boarding a tricycle when he was shot by one of two men on a motorcycle.

Ding quoted Alejandrino as saying: “It is very possible that the victim was shot by vigilantes. He had been notorious for drugs, on top of cases of murder and frustrated murder that he was facing. I was even wondering how come he was at large instead of being in jail.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 21, 2016)

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