Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay Party-list raised concerns over what he called the creeping “culture of death” that is enveloping the country amid daily killings in the past several months.
“Many of these killings may be drug related and some of them are not. We don’t know which is which. We are allowing the nation to tread on a system where the rule of law is not respected,” Atienza said.
Atienza, a senior deputy minority leader at the House of Representatives, cited the case of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr.
“The killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in his jail cell is a very clear picture of what can happen to anyone.
He may have been guilty of a drug-related crime but the policemen went into his cell to finish him off. No amount of good intentions will justify breaking the rule of law. No mere allegation is enough to justify killing anyone,” the lawmaker said in a privilege speech.
He also cited as examples the killings of a couple suspected of being involved in the drug trade inside their home in Pateros, the fatal shooting of Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom, suspected of transporting illegal drugs, at a checkpoint in North Cotabato and the slaying by two ranking police personnel of anti-crime crusader Zenaida Luz in Mindoro, among others.
“Obviously there’s a breakdown in law and order. We can no longer distinguish between the criminals and the uniformed men who are themselves the lawbreakers,” Atienza said.
While expressing support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, Atienza urged him to address the spate of killings, noting that resolving it is consistent with efforts to restore social order.
“We want him to succeed, but unless the President re-directs the present trend, he might not succeed. The
economy cannot possibly grow amidst a culture of death. Violence only begets more violence. The President will find it very difficult to restore order unless this creeping culture of death is prevented from further establishing itself,” he said.
“We are very concerned with what is going on because the common vision that we all share in this Congress of a good life for every Filipino will not be accomplished. No amount of good governance that is not anchored on the rule of law has any chance to succeed,” Atienza added.
He warned that a culture of death will be a stumbling block to progress.
“Unless this situation is corrected by President Duterte and PNP (Philippine National Police) Chief Dela Rosa, the administration’s programs will find it difficult to take root. Where will economic development and prosperity come in? Order needs to be restored, as well as confidence in our police force. More and more, people are getting skeptical over the end result of all these killings,” the lawmaker said.
Restoring the death penalty, Atienza added, will not solve the problem of drugs and criminality. What is needed is for the country to reform the criminal justice system because the certainty of arrest and punishment is still the best deterrent to crime.