“God where are you?” – Rand Mittri, 26-year old student from Aleppo, Syria
“What is happening to our country General? – Late Vice-President Emmanuel N. Pelaez
I was glued to the television on the morning of Aug. 22, 2016, listening to the comments of senators and resource persons on the magnitude of the illegal drug problem in our country during the Senate hearing of the Justice Committee presided over by Senator Leila De Lima. One thing was clear from the very beginning – the problem was insurmountable, unless the government adopted the correct approach to solving the problem and it got the cooperation of the overwhelming majority of our people.
What is the correct approach?
The correct approach is to control illegal drug traffic at its source. Is the source the illegal drug user? Absolutely not! Is it the illegal drug pusher? Certainly no! The sources are the drug lords who import the illegal drugs or their components from abroad and the drug lords who manufacture the illegal drugs in the Philippines. The next line in the illegal drug chain consists of the illegal drug distributors who secure the drugs from the illegal drug importers and manufacturers. After this line in the chain are the distributors to various illegal drug retailers and from the retailers to the illegal drug pushers and finally down to the illegal drug users.
Govt participation in the illegal drug trade
If government officials in the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Coast Guard, and Philippine Navy do their duties, no illegal drugs or their components could enter the country. If there are no illegal drugs or their components entering the country, then there will be no manufacturers or distributors. If there is no illegal drug supply, then there will be no retailers, illegal drug pushers and illegal drug users.
Where do the other government officials come in on the illegal drug trade chain? They are the protectors of drug importers and manufacturers, drug distributors and retailers. As a matter of fact, some of these government officials are not only protectors but distributors and/or retailers themselves. Who are these officials? They are politicians in local and national government; police or military officials in all levels, and officials in the prosecution arm of the government and in the judiciary, not to speak of media practitioners in all levels.
Where is the fault in the govt approach to the illegal drug problem?
How do you kill a snake? You don’t kill the snake by cutting the tail. You kill the snake by cutting the head. Where is the head in the illegal drug problem? The head is composed of the following: the importers of the illegal drugs and components; the manufacturers of illegal drugs, the distributors of the illegal drugs; the retailers of the illegal drugs, the protectors of the illegal drugs and the recyclers of the illegal drugs. Get rid of them, that is the first step in the solution to the illegal drug problem.
The tail of the snake is composed of the illegal drug users and pushers. They are victims of a government manipulated by oligarchs and politicians. The government cannot provide work. Without work these men and women cannot live. To survive, they have to find ways of feeding their families, providing them education and health care. How do these people survive under the present system – they have to push illegal drugs to have money for their survival. For the users, they also have to commit crimes to find ways of surviving and if they can survive, to find ways and means to forget their dismal state.
You don’t have to be a doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist to know. That’s plain simple common sense – sentido common.
So why are the generals, the mayors, congressmen and other privileged individuals – the rich and infamous – police and military officials treated differently from the poor and downtrodden illegal drug users and pushers? It is plain to see that there are two kinds of laws operating under the Duterte administration – one for the upper class and another for the lower class. If you belong to the upper class, you get interviews and cases are filed against you in court enjoying your human rights, presumption of innocence, due process and equal protection of the law. If you are of the lower class, you are just shot dead – no human rights, no presumption of innocence, no due process and no equal protection of the law.
If the Duterte administration has no appreciation for human rights, rule of law, presumption of innocence, due process and equal protection of the law, then kill the generals, the drug lords, governors, mayors, military men, illegal drug importers and manufacturers, the illegal drug distributors, congressmen and senators, public officials who are suspected of involvement in the drug trade. That way, the snake loses its head and there will be no supply of illegal drugs. If there is no supply of illegal drugs, what would the pushers push and what would the users use? It is as clear as the waters of the Blue Lagoon.
Regarding the pushers and the users, send them to isolated islands or isolated mountain areas – rehabilitate them and reform them. Let them learn new skills; give them education with stress on good and proper human values; and release them when they are totally cured and have learned new skills and the appropriate human values.
The snake is killed and the problem is solved.
Duterte and de Lima
A debate on morals under the present Philippine condition is useless. It is just like
a debate on religion, it is an exercise in futility unless immorality is linked to the commission of a crime such as in this particular case. The President is trying to settle a score with Sen. Leila de Lima. Settling a score is their problem. What is important is whether de Lima, in her previous capacity as secretary of Justice, protected drug lords at the New Bilibid Prisons and received money through her lover who has not denied up to this day. As a matter of fact, from the way de Lima has been very evasive in denying what appeared to be a tempestuous love affair, it is very probable that the charge of PDU30 is true.
If the President has evidence, and it appears that he has, then he should ask his boys to file a case against de Lima. De Lima says that if there is evidence against her she is more than willing to be shot in the presence of the President. So shoot her, that’s what she says. Another senator dead will not make any difference in the life of this country as a rule. In this case, it appears that she is the only senator with balls in the Senate who is willing to risk everything to determine whether there is human rights violation and criminal acts committed in the relentless pursuit of the illegal drug campaign of this administration. As a lawyer who has been trying criminal cases for as long as I can remember, I am afraid that the President, with a mischievous glint in his eyes, will end up watching her being shot.
If there are human rights violations and criminal acts committed, then those who are responsible should be prosecuted – criminally and administratively. Since the culpability reaches up to the level of the President, he should be prosecuted criminally and an impeachment complaint should be filed with the House of Representatives. The President could invoke executive immunity in an effort to evade appearing before the Senate or House of Representatives or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or any other investigative agency of government, but this does not mean that the investigation cannot continue. However, even if it is found that there is probable cause against him, under current law, he cannot be prosecuted in court because under Philippine jurisprudence that is prohibited.
Since it is jurisprudence, it can be reversed. Jurisprudence is a creation of the courts and enacted as part of our legal system by Article 8 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. So anyone who thinks that this judicial doctrine should be reversed can file the complaints and if probable cause is found, file the same with the lower courts. If the lower courts dismiss the cases, the complainants can go up to the Supreme Court and attempt to seek a reversal, considering changing times and circumstances. It is not easy to do. But people should remember the famous dissenting opinions of Justice Oliver Wendell Homes in the American Supreme Court. His dissents eventually became the majority views of the Supreme Court of the USA. As they say it among knowledgeable legal circles, a decision of the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but it is infallible only because it is final.
In the Philippine setting, reversals of previous Supreme Court decisions are not rare. They come many a time even on fundamental concepts in the past two to three decades. So the brave ones one can make the attempt; they have nothing to lose but time, effort and money. But if they win, they can come out of the experience in incandescent glory.
So Sen. de Lima, the ball is in your court. You have nothing to lose but a Senate seat, your reputation and your life.
Sen. De Lima’s faults
Obviously, Sen. de Lima has not read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. As chairperson of the Commission On Human Rights during President Arroyo’s time, she had the courage to go to Davao City in an effort to subdue Duterte, the Davao lion in his den, for violation of human rights. De Lima was not able to a file a single criminal case against him. Of course, the lion took offense; that is natural because it appeared that de Lima was conducting a propaganda war against him. Why no case? De Lima’s reply was – the witnesses were afraid to testify against Duterte. If she is a warrior, she ought to have known that. She should have not dared to go to the lion’s den without studying her enemy – the lion. This is the biggest single mistake of a warrior, she did not study the enemy, she failed to study herself. De Lima committed that mistake. It is unforgivable.
That no case was filed is her fault. If she was a law practitioner, she does not know her onions. A better lawyer could have done better.
Another serious mistake is not to realize that a fight against a President is a fight she cannot win. She lost to Duterte when he was only a mayor of a city, how does she expect to win a fight against a popular President who
controls both houses of Congress?
She has not lost all her options, though, despite her horrendous mistakes. She can wage her war in media and with the people. Her biggest problem, though, is that she is not a knight in shining armor. She is a morally flawed person because of her sexual peregrinations. This is one lesson I learned from the greatest and most brilliant Jesuit I have ever met, Father James McMahon: when you have an immoral dalliance with anyone, you should see to it that there are only three people who know about it – you, the other person and God. If there is a fourth person who knows, the whole world will know about it.
Unfortunately for Sen. de Lima, it is not only the President who knows, the whole country knows so her goose is cooked. It is not only once; it is not only twice but thrice – the unidentified, Ronnie and Warren. De Lima should have known that a senator must only be above suspicion but beyond reproach. And more, all’s fair in love, war and politics – video, pictures and all.