By Raïssa Robles
“To win the war against drugs, we need to be resolute like #PresidentDuterte. There should be no neutrals in this righteous crusade against evil. Let those fence-sitting nitpicking Humpty Dumpties realize that they are derailing our total victory against this menace. They are clearly on the side of if not protecting the drug lords.”
I found this post highly disturbing because it comes from an official of Malacanang Palace.
First, Lavina name-calls those critical of Duterte’s “war on drugs” methods as “nitpicking Humpty Dumpties”.
Second, he says these fence-sitting nitpickers are “derailing our total victory against this menace” (a convenient scapegoat if the “war” fails).
And third, it concludes – VERY, VERY WRONGLY I must say – that the nitpickers “are clearly on the side of if not protecting the drug lords.”
What you are implying, Mr. Lavina, is that nitpickers can become legitimate targets of your “war on drugs” because you have already made the conclusion – WRONGLY SO – that critics of your “war on drugs” are drug lord protectors.
This reminds me very clearly of what happened during Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law. What Duterte officials are doing is expanding the definition of who are the enemies of the state. Initially now, these are the drug pushers, drug lords and drug traffickers.
Their next target are the critics who are now being accused of being “clearly on the side of if not protecting the drug lords”.
And this is how the drug war can totally spin out of control just like Marcos’ war against the “communists” did.
This is what you call IMPUNITY.
Duterte supporters and officials don’t seem to understand that to reduce the drug problem they must put in place all the safeguards against mistakes, abuse and misuse of the vast police powers now being used. Wrongful arrests and wrongful deaths are what will derail the anti-drug program.
Mr Lavina gleefully quotes the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, which ominously ends with Humpty Dumpty falling and dying.
I want him to look soberly at this other nursery rhyme:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
all for want of a horseshoe nail.
I just had to get this off my chest before I go on with the frightening experience of this 26-year-old call center agent whose home was visited recently by armed police officers looking for him to “invite” him for questioning at the police station because they claimed he was involved in a hit-and-run.
I don’t know the name of this yuppie.
The narrative below is from Ray Paolo J. Santiago, executive director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center. Arpee Santiago accompanied the yuppie to the police station to clear his name. Here is Arpee’s story of what happened, which could clearly happen to anyone, including you.
In other words, no one – AND I REPEAT, NO ONE – except maybe those in Malacanang, is safe from being put on the drug watch list, which is also turning out to be a kill list.
The drug watch list eerily reminds me of the “Order of Battle” that was routinely drawn up and used by the military during Martial Law. It contained names of what they call the “hardened Left”. It often contained names of Jesuits, names of nuns from Maryknoll (now Miriam) College, from St. Scholastica and even from Assumption College. It was studded with names of students and graduates from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, PUP, etc.
Drug pushers, users and traffickers, it seems, are now the new Left as far as the Duterte government is concerned.
Here is Arpee’s narrative, published with his permission:
Warning: this is a long post.
By Ray Paulo Santiago
Executive Director, Ateneo Human Rights Center
Two nights ago, I assisted a 26-year old call center agent who found himself in his community police precinct’s drug watchlist in Manila. He mentioned that earlier this month, a couple of police officers went to his house in the guise that he was involved in a hit-and-run incident and wanted to invite him to the police station.
Fortunately, he was not home. He learned about this and went to his barangay. That is when he discovered that the real reason for the police visit was his inclusion in the drug watch list. Apparently, some anonymous information surfaced that he is involved in drugs. Not only as a user, but as a drug pusher.
He was able to clear his name at the barangay and got a certification that he is innocent of the suspicion; that he was never known to the barangay as being involved with drugs. He proceeded to the police station with the mission to clear his name.
At the police station, he was told that if he really wanted to clear his name, he had to fill out the “surrender form.” In the form, he only had 2 choices: either he is a user or a pusher. He refused as he never got involved with any illegal drug. After much pleading, the police officer relented but asked him to fill out a personal data sheet which asked for all his personal circumstances and details, including the name of his parents. He refused as he was afraid to give a lot of details very personal to all of us. So he left.
But since he was tagged as a “drug pusher” in the list, he was also afraid that he might be targeted. Maybe not by the police authorities, but somehow he felt vulnerable that he might be killed by vigilante groups. And this is where I came in. I assisted him as he wants to again be secure. He wanted to feel safe.
He was accompanied by his mom, lola and a cousin when we talked as he was afraid. I simply asked him straight out if he was involved in illegal drugs and warned him that it is him who will suffer the consequences if he would lie to me. He maintained that he never touched any, more so peddled them.
So off we went to the police station. What did I find out?
After a long argument and discussion with the police officer (who turned out to be an intelligence officer), the “intel” that they have is not really intel. Thankfully, I have learned from UPROTC (#supportrotc) that unverified information can never ripen into an intelligence report. It is simply chismis. So the police are actually acting on raw information. Thankfully, the intel officer acted quickly the first time the guy went to the station. Based on his background check (and intel ops), he is “negative.” My guy has indeed not been involved with the illegal drug trade. In short, the info that the police have is simply wrong.
Can he then be delisted from the drug watch list? Hell, no. At least not yet. He has to wait for maybe 3 months since the list has been forwarded to higher headquarters and the stations are pressured to follow through and “clean” the list.
Bottomline, I got the personal assurance of the police and intel officer that my guy is “negative,” and that they will follow the procedure to delist him. I also blatantly told the police officer that I will personally hold them accountable should something happen to him. Again, they assured us that he will be safe.
I felt happy for my guy. But I feel sad and scared for the other innocent persons dragged into this because of sloppy police intelligence work. How tempted I was to actually include some people I know to be included in the dug watch list. People I know indeed are innocent. But nonetheless for them to realize that they can always be wrongfully accused. And it is very scary nowadays to be mistakenly included. But on second thought, I don’t want this insecurity suffered even by my enemies. I don’t want to risk their lives just so that they will realize that the threat is real.
I am writing this post for us to find lawful and safe solutions to these illegal drugs and criminality. No person in his or her right mind ever supported these. And when we talk of human rights, it does not mean that we support criminals. I simply want a system that no innocent person will fall in the cracks of our justice system. It is simply not a numbers game. Every life counts. That is the kind of humanity I learned to love and grow up with. That is the kind of compassion my faith has also taught me.