POSTSCRIPT / September 10, 2017 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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PNP a drug drive collateral victim

IT HAS BECOME clear after more than one year and at least 10,000 Filipinos shot dead that the spot execution of suspected drug pushers/users when cornered is not the solution to the narcotic problem.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself confessed after his drug drive overshot his six-month deadline that the narcotic scourge will outlive his six-year term.

Contributing to this failure is his focus on trimming the twigs without digging out the roots of the problem — or killing the throng of consumers instead of the fewer main suppliers who are already known. Also, there has been just lip service to rehabilitating drug users.

He has succeeded instead in making his enforcer, the Philippine National Police, a collateral victim. The PNP badge is now stained with blood, and its young officers initiated into committing their first murder in the name of his drug war.

The situation has so deteriorated that no less than presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella has advised parents and the youth to be careful when stepping out in view of the spate of killings of teenagers suspected of involvement in drugs.

The blood-splattered picture has been put on sharper focus by the serial executions of Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, Carl Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo De Guzman, 14, who all appeared to be victims of extrajudicial killings. There must have been others like them missed by media.

Whether or not Mr. Duterte succeeds in shifting the blame to supposed assassins hired to discredit the police, the air is now thick with the smell of blood and the cries of families who have lost loved ones to murderers in or out of uniform.

The nation now has to contend with a culture of violence and divisive politics made worse by Mr. Duterte’s style of fighting the drug menace. It now seems to be so easy to kill or get killed in the Philippines.

Without necessarily casting the first stone, concerned Catholic bishops have directed the tolling of church bells at certain hours daily as an alarm over extrajudicial executions and a call to prayer for spiritual change.

Deploring the creeping “new normal,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said: “We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing.”

In performing their sworn duty to serve and protect the people, the police are handicapped by the PNP’s institutional lack of moral leadership.

Leadership is rotten when the commander tells the men to shoot to kill if the suspect resists, that if he does not resist to make him fight back, and that if the targeted person does not have a gun to plant one on him. The robots are promised reward, protection and pardon.

The practice of planting evidence and “salvaging” (summary execution) notorious characters is actually so well-known that it is widely taken for granted to the point of being tolerated.

That alone is already alarming. But for the commander himself to give such explicit instructions publicly – on nationwide TV at that! — is depravity. It is total breakdown of moral leadership.

So now, some quarters demand a stop to the drug war on account of the spate of execution of apparently innocent bystanders. We beg to disagree. Despite its shortcomings, the war against drugs should not stop. On the contrary, it should be pressed relentlessly.

What is needed is a rethinking, a reprogramming. The one-dimensional (kill, kill, kill!) program must be multi-dimensional to cover all aspects, each problem area given proportional emphasis. The action-plan must then be multi-pronged.

Wipe away the blood, take the campaign out of its narrow police context and review it from a holistic perspective that includes its socio-economic and public health ramifications. In short, take it out of the Davao template.

• Pope: Rise from violence, bitterness

POPE FRANCIS on a pilgrimage to Colombia asked yesterday the people of that South American nation that has gained notoriety for its drug problem to “rise up out of the swamp of violence and bitterness.”

In an outdoor mass Friday in Villavicencio, Colombia, the Pope beatified two Colombian martyrs whom he raised as examples of their nation’s desire to overcome divisions and violence,

In the 1980s, Colombia gained international disrepute as a narcotic trafficking center. It has a long history of violence, much of it related to illegal drugs that permeated Colombian culture and politics.

Pope Francis said the promise of change in Colombia is fulfilled in its Monsignor Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, Bishop of Arauca, and the martyred priest of Armero, Pedro María Ramírez Ramos.”

He declared. “They are an expression of a people who wish to rise up out of the swamp of violence and bitterness.” Tens of thousands attending the mass cheered the beatification of the two figures long recognized in Colombia for their bravery and fidelity to the Church.

Zenit, a Vatican-based news agency, said Monsalve was assassinated in 1989 in the midst of drug wars and political conflict, and Ramos killed during the civil war in 1948. (We encourage readers who want to keep abreast of Catholic news to subscribe to

The Vatican agency Fides said of the new Blesseds:

> Monsalve was born Feb. 14, 1916, in Santo Domingo, Colombia, ordained on Sept. 1, 1940, appointed Apostolic Vicar of Arauca on Nov. 11, 1970. On July 19, 1984, Pope John Paul II elevated the vicariate to diocese with Monsalve as its first bishop.

> Ramos was born Oct. 23, 1899, in La Plata, Huila. He had worked as a director and secretary of the parish chorus, and spent time teaching, without neglecting parish life. Ordained on June 21, 1931, he served as deputy parish priest and parish priest in four parishes, the last one in Armero, where he suffered martyrdom.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 10, 2017)

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