THERE has been no head count, but we can safely guess that more people are pleased than those who aren’t with the violent Duterte government and police effort to end the drug menace in our country.
Many people are fortunate enough to live in drug-free communities, mostly gated villages and areas that have enjoyed decades of being governed well by a succession of good men and women barangay officials under good mayors. These are the people who are inclined to join the critics of the Duterte and police teams whose raids are reported to have killed not just drug dealers and drug pushers but also drug users and innocent bystanders and mistaken-identity victims.
But people who live in communities that have drug dealers and pushers–some of whom act offensively like the gangsters in the imagination of simple folk, while some act like soft-spoken gentlemen and generous friends of their sons who are drug addicts—are pleased with the President’s war on drugs and his determination to eliminate the drug menace. They also don’t mind if the teams working against the drug pushers are not government people but the agents of extra-judicial killings (EJKs).
What they don’t like is when, during shootouts, there are mistaken-identity deaths and innocent bystander victims.
A survey has shown massive public approval of the DU30 government’s performance against drug dealers but also massive public fear of being killed during raids.
President Duterte’s war on drugs has killed 6,000 drug operators and users. Some civil society organizations have pointed out that of this 6,000 a goodly number were innocent victims. And some of these were children caught in the crossfire or simply shot unthinkingly by government law enforcers in the heat of the action.
The President has announced that this year, the war will continue–-with the government being even “stricter” than in the first six months of his term. This means that if there is no change in the methods of operations, there will be more deaths—and more innocent victims.
Mr. Duterte has said there are almost 3.7 million drug pushers and users. Government enforcers seem to have decided that drug users should also be killed. The President himself explained in television interviews that the drug user has become as bad and as dangerous as the drug pusher because his brain has become, not just addled, but completely demolished by his addiction, so that he fights those who are trying to help him by eliminating his drug supplier.
Since only 6,000 pushers and users out of a claimed 3.7 million in existence have so far been killed, then there will be more of them to kill.
Watching and listening to Mr. Duterte being interviewed and thoughtfully answering interviewers, it strikes us that he seems to believe in God, despite his easy declaration of not being a believer on other occasions. He seems sorry that people have to be killed and sorrier that innocent victims have died in his war against drugs.
We really hope that he and his police officers will find a way to continue their anti-drug crusade and operations more efficiently so that there will be no more innocent victims.
We hope he generously compensates the families who have lost innocent members.
And we pray that he develops a deeper appreciation of the value of human life.