• Freedom’s Call

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Berlin, Germany: The first hundred days has been used to “measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that their powers and influence is at its greatest.” It was coined in a “July 24, 1933 address by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he was referring to the 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress between March 9 and June 17, rather than the first 100 days of his administration.”

    The so-called honeymoon period is about to end. The practice or tradition of the opposing party to not criticize the president for about 100 days has not been honored because of the so-called extrajudicial killings or EJK.

    EJK has now been reframed as Deaths Under Investigation or DUI. Still, others would want to correct EJK to extra legal killings because EJK is defined as “the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are mostly seen by humanity to be unethical, since they bypass the due process of the legal jurisdiction in which they occur.”

    EJK often target “leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures and are only those carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the armed forces or police, as extra-legal fulfillment of their prescribed role.”

    In the fight against illegal drugs, the Duterte administration has been taken to task by the United States and the European Union. But among ASEAN nations and other Asian countries, the non-interference tradition has been respected, called out and often maintained.

    That accounts for the difference among Western democracies and the so-called Asian democracies. Where western or liberal democracy is “characterized by fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract.” Asian democracy on the other hand, has been based on Asian values, codified and promoted in the Bangkok Declaration of 1993, which re-emphasized the principles of sovereignty, self-determination, and non-interference in civil and political rights. They included predisposition towards one-party authoritarian government; preference for social harmony; concern with socio-economic prosperity and the collective well-being of the community; loyalty and respect towards figures of authority and preference for collectivism and communitarianism.”

    During the lead up to the World Conference on Human Rights held in 1993, ministers from Asian states adopted the Bangkok Declaration, “reaffirming their governments’ commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They stated their view of the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights and stressed the need for universality, objectivity, and non-selectivity of human rights.” However, at the same time, they emphasized the “principles of sovereignty and non-interference, calling for greater emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights in particular, the right to economic development over civil and political rights.”

    The Bangkok Declaration is considered to be a landmark expression of the “Asian values perspective, which offers an extended critique of human rights universalism.”

    The lens by which the western world therefore judges PRRD is a lens that has been debated upon for decades. Asian values “gained popularity in the People’s Republic of China, Malaysia (under Mahathir Mohamad), Singapore (under Lee Kuan Yew), Indonesia and Japan (perhaps as early as the pre World War II era). In the West, the study of Asian values was seen as a way to understand Asia and foster a closer relationship with the region.” Still, the west insists in using their lens when they deal with Asia, truly a wrong move.

    Now referred to merely as a “treaty ally” of the United States, the Philippines apparently has been relegated to such because of the vocal statements made by PRRD. This despite the fact that the Philippines has a shared past with the US and a strategic role in its Asian pivot.

    By just a single issue (EJK) anchored on the declared war against illegal drugs, the US, UN and EU have come in to the picture and has called PRRD. Those who are milking the issue are now driving the argument that we will lose our international partners because of the way PRRD has answered back. If that is the sole basis of our international relations, then our bonds are truly weak, which is not the case. Ours is a foreign policy that holds to heart our strategic positions: geography and historical past with the US, our pioneering role in the UN and our shared history with Spain, and religious link with Rome. Filipinos are also all over. They are the source of our strength today. To say that Duterte will destroy all of these is truly a fantastic tale.

    The best thing to do is for PRRD to set up an audit mechanism within the PNP to document and prepare what happened to the 2,000 or so killings. It should be able to control the narrative on the gravity of the drug menace. It should have a rehabilitation plan for the 700,000 individuals who have surrendered and paint the painful narrative of the approximately 20,000 minors hooked on illegal drugs.

    As a former user once said, “each night we watched the sun set no matter where we were, and we’d wake up early to witness it rising again. That was the thing about life: even when the days faded to black, you were always given another chance. A second moment to try again to rise from the ashes.”

    Should we not care more for ourselves and get our nation free from drugs than be bothered by what other nations say about our effort to get ourselves back on our collective feet and rise from the ashes? It may not be a perfect effort and there will always be lives compromised. And yes, those who kill need to answer the law. But in the overall scheme of things, a free nation, free from illegal drugs is the Philippines we want to be!


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