POSTSCRIPT / April 11, 2017 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Lascañas flies out, gets better vantage

BY THIS TIME, former police officer Arturo Lascañas may no longer be in Singapore, where the confessed “Davao Death Squad” leader flew Saturday to get a vantage in his battle with President Duterte, whom he had tagged as the DDS boss when he was still Davao City mayor.

Lascañas is likely to keep changing location to elude the dragnet that President Duterte is expected to throw to bring back this once trusted henchman now accusing him of using the DDS to summarily execute individuals who had crossed him.

Interviewed at the airport by Inquirer reporter Nikko DIzon, who flew with him to Singapore, Lascañas said he decided to leave after learning that charges will be filed against him and that somebody will be sent to get him.

He has said many times that he decided to disclose all he knew about the DDS, and his and the mayor’s involvement, because he wanted to make a clean breast of it all, atone for his errors and try turning a new leaf.

It is intriguing that until the time he went to the airport, no charges had been filed and no hold order issued to prevent his flight. He was actually stopped, but immigration officers allowed him to go after higher authority cleared his departure.

It is obvious that Lascañas has supporters who have money and connections. Once abroad, he could complicate the predicament of Mr. Duterte being hounded by charges of violating human rights in his bloody anti-drug trafficking campaign.

Lascañas may just surface as a key witness in a high-profile human rights complaint before the International Criminal Court. In such a situation, he could even be used to pressure and influence Duterte.

In another possible scenario, a deal could have been struck for a well-provided-for Lascañas to be allowed to leave the country and for him to then keep quiet while abroad during Mr. Duterte’s term.

• Poisoning impressionable young minds

WE ARE sharing these timely Lenten thoughts culled from an item published by yesterday:

Imagine you have a son and he’s a Boy Scout. He’s 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. And President 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 son knows that killing is a topic that is sometimes taboo, sometimes okay. He hears it discussed everywhere, from movies to TV, to the internet. 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, right at the seat of power, that he is 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 – in times of war and peace, and all the times in-between such as 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.

Thus, it’s no surprise when one child blurts out, “I will kill drug pushers.” 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 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, the President 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?

Are we creating a future generation of callous, unthinking, unfeeling, morally ambiguous people with an unshakeable belief in the power 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, 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.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 11, 2017)

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