On October 28, at around 4:30 a.m. the mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, SamsudinDimaukom, and nine of his men were killed in a highway in Makilala, Cotabato, in what was reported as a shoot-out with the Philippine National Police.
Mayor Dimaukom was on the drug watch list of President Duterte. Last August 7, the mayor presented himself to the Maguindanao provincial police authorities after having been tagged as being involved in the illegal drug trade.
Three days later on October 31, in Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, six masked men wearing jackets barged into a private residence, killed five people andtook P200,000 in cash. Drugs were found in the crime scene, and relatives admitted that two of the victims were drug users.
In just a period of three days, 15 people died.
This would translate to five drug-related deaths a day, 0.21 an hour, and 0.0035 a minute, to be precise.
If you have not erupted in immediate condemnation of the slayings that one can usually expect in this season of the so-called extra-judicial killings, then I have to ask you why.
Are you getting desensitized? Or are you just being selective in your rage?
The mass killings in Cotabato of the Maguindanao mayor and his men are particularly compelling, as it is a perfect case of a possible rub-out. If there is one case that fits a possible extra-judicial execution, it would be this. If there is one instance where the state can be possibly accused of mass murder, it would be the death of 10 people on that highway in Makilala, Cotabato. The victims were killed by agents of the state, and there is enough ground to gather forensic evidence from the crime scene and the bodies of the victims that can dispute the claim of a shoot-out, if one wants to make the case.
Yet, there was nary a peep from human rights advocates, at least none that was vocally articulated in social media. Except for isolated voices from relatives and friends expressing concern and demanding an investigation, there is no widespread outrage linking the deaths to the drug war of the President.
One is then led to suspect that perhaps it is because the casualties are a politician and his men, and not of a pedicab driver from Pasay.
The killing of five people in Mandaluyong is equally compelling. It is a classic case of a drug-related execution of two users, and three of their friends. Six armed, masked men barged into a private home, and killed them, and took away the earnings of one victim.
Even if drugs are involved,if you now treat the story line as a simple crime story, without any attempt to paint the dead as victims of the President’s dirty drug war, then you have to ask why.
Is it because the victims are not so poor? That one is even able to have P200,000 in earnings? That it happened not in a slum area but in a nice house? That even if it involved the death of five people, that there were no cardboards left behind to brand them as users and pushers?
One has to ask these questions if only to raise the issue of the manner we treat killings.
In the language of human rights, killings have no hierarchies in terms of which is to be condemned. There is no discrimination as to who died and in whose hands. Execution without due process is murder most foul and deserves condemnation. Any victim, be he a poor pedicab driver or a rich politician or someone from the middle-class, would have their rights violated if they are killed. Criminals have rights too, and we should not discriminate between richer drug addicts and poorer drug peddlers on who deserve our protection.
Yet, it is obvious that for some people, some kinds of death are worth condemning than others. Death of the poor is easily blamed on the state as extra-judicial execution, even as the death of anyone else is easily considered a shoot-out if the victim is a politically-powerful personality or simply a criminal case if the victim lives in a nice house.
Critics of the President have on several occasions labeled his drug war campaign as anti-poor. They made this into a mantra to propel the image of a campaign that discriminates against the human rights of those who are impoverished.
But when you are relatively silent over the death of Mayor SamsudinDimaukom and his men on that highway in Cotabato,and of the five killed inside a middle-class house in Mandaluyong, then I have to call you out and indict you for your selectivity.
You have reduced human rights to merely a political tool to attack a President you hate. You have to be reminded that even politicians and people who live in nice houseshave human rights that can be violated too.