Shameless and selective necro-politicking by adults over juvenile deaths

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

FROM day one, I have always made my position clear. I am against any form of unwarranted killing. It doesn’t even matter if the victim is a criminal. It is a matter of principle for me, one that I have always valued and which I refuse to abandon.

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I can only tolerate killing if it is as a last recourse, and as a form of self-defense.

Thus, the death of an innocent person who is a victim of a drug-crazed criminal has to me the same effect as the death of a criminal suspect who is summarily executed by the police.

And what compounds my horror and revulsion is when the victims are women and minors, more so if they are children.

I condemn criminals who kill women and children, more so if under the influence of drugs. Even if I do not approve of capital punishment, I would support inflicting on them the harshest penalty of life imprisonment and hard labor without the possibility of parole.

But I also condemn those who kill women and children either as collateral damage in the war on drugs, or when they are killed under suspicious circumstances when they are already under the custody of the police.

This, even as I can accept the death of drug suspects who threaten the lives of police officers who are performing their duties in legitimate operations. But even here, I always have a soft spot for women and children, more so of children.

The reason for this is that I always see child criminals as victims too. They personify the failure of the older generation, their parents, and the society. to give them a life that would have prevented them from being involved in crime. Every child living a life of crime means that there is a bad adult parent who fails to provide the child guidance and anchor, an adult predator who feasts on the child’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and a government of adults who falls short in giving the child a caring and functional environment.

A child who lives a life of crime is our failure. And it is not even acceptable that one should assuage our guilt by saying that involvement in drugs is a matter of choice, for this begs the question of whether a child can in fact rationally make those choices when their adults fail them.

Thus, when adults express rage over the death of children, one has to be asked where that rage is coming from, and how is it manifested.

I rage over the death of girls raped and killed by drug-crazed criminals, in the same way that I rage over the death of one Kian de los Santos, even when he may in fact be a drug courier as alleged. In fact, I would rage even at the death of a child drug suspect killed in a firefight with the police, for a part of me would expect that armed minors and children should be treated with extra caution.

Yet, some adults become selective in their rage.

But what is more problematic is when adults are not only selective in their rage, but even appropriate the deaths of children as fodder for their political agenda.

After all, children’s deaths have become attractive materials for shameless necro-politicking.

And no one could have perfected this art than those who try to turn every juvenile death into an opportunity to attack their political enemies.

It is easy to see this behavior in those who oppose the President’s drug war. They tend to focus their rage on the drug-related deaths of children who are victims in police operations. It is shameless when they do so without showing the same level of rage towards the drug criminals who rape and kill innocent children. And it is even most shameless when they opportunistically exploit the death of child victims by turning them into visual materials to enhance their political optics.

Nothing can be more abhorrent than to see politicians, armed with political theatrics and rhetoric, with TV crews in tow, parade in front of Kian’s coffin, and turn it into an effigy of their condemnation of the President. We see Sen. Antonio Trillanes 3rd, known for his rabid attacks on the President, now turning a misty eye. We see Liberal Party senators Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros descending on the wake less to commiserate than to condemn the killing and launch political attacks against the President, even as the parents with whom they presumably express sympathy remain uncritical of him. And Leni Robredo, who rarely visits wakes, suddenly appeared and used the occasion to launch an attack on the drug war.

But the selectiveness of rage over, and politicization of, juvenile deaths is not just limited to those who oppose the war on drugs.

Those who support the drug war of the President may not be as blatantly selective in their rage over the deaths of children who are victims of this war. This is manifested when, instead of showing sympathy for the child victims, they try to find justifications for their deaths. This is done by blaming the victims, by selectively highlighting that they are in fact involved in drugs and/or by being blindly defensive of the police despite palpable evidence of abuse and wrongdoing.

Children die in drug-related violence, as victims of drug-crazed criminals, or as victims of the police, either as innocent collaterals, or as suspects.

But regardless of the nature, they are all victims of circumstances emanating from a world that we adults have messed up. And when we become selective in our rage and we treat their deaths as capital to advance or justify our political beliefs, we are victimizing them again even in their deaths.

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