Out-of-the-box war

By Atty. Ruphil Bañoc |October 06,2016 - 08:18 PM

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

Let me state at the onset that I am for the rule of law, but I am also for the strong implementation of our laws.

President Rody Duterte’s war on drugs generates lively debates everywhere, which is good in a democracy. Apparently, however, said war has gained support from the Filipino people. “Res ipsa loquitur,” which means the thing speaks for itself, may be used by analogy here: With his landslide victory in May 2016, followed by his 91 percent trust rating, Duterte appears to have the support of the public as regards his approach to solve the drug problems.

Ordinary people who actually see and experience the destructive consequences of illegal drugs are frustrated over the traditional way of trying to solve the problem.
Let me point out some factual incidents that cannot be ignored.

First, let’s take a look on the number one alleged drug lord in Leyte, Mr. Kerwin Espinosa and his father Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. They had been arrested and charged many times for violating RA 9165 otherwise known as Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, but none of those cases have prospered against them.

The Espinosas, with their vast income from illegal drug trade, can hire good lawyers who can play with the technicalities of the law. Add to that their wide connections with corrupt government officials. This created a lot of “miracles” so that their cases could not even reach to court. In short, it is very hard to convict a person involved in drugs, more so if he is a drug lord.

Second, there are instances that drug personalities are convicted and finally put in prison. However, does this finally solve the drug problem? The answer is no. In fact, they continually do their business inside the heavily guarded jail facilities. It is very ironic and revolting that the New Bilibid Prison has been used as the command center of the alleged big-time drug lords, the likes of Jaybee Sebastian, Peter Co, Herbert Colangco and the Bilibid 19.

Third, one may think that if a person gets out from jail after serving sentence, he may get out reformed or rehabilitated. There are times that the opposite is true. Take the case of the late Jefrey “Jaguar” Diaz, the number one drug lord in Central Visayas. He was just an ordinary street pusher at Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City, when he started his illegal business, but when he was put in prison and later on released, he became a big-time drug lord. What a disaster!

These are the tragic repeated scenarios that ordinary people realistically see. Things can’t go on this way forever. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” says a quote. The people are already sick and tired of the old system, so they embrace the out-of-the-box Du30 way of confronting the enormous drug problem.

Many agreed to the idea of giving the drug pushers and addicts the chance through “Oplan Tokhang,” but if they don’t listen, there will be consequences. People would feel safer without them anyway. This explains why there is no public outrage over the war against drugs.

The campaign is so far effective. The President emphasizes the rule of law in running after the criminals with the instruction to the police to use reasonable force if their lives will be put in danger. This prompted the drug users and pushers to surrender, and they promised to change their lives. It is the first time in our history that there are more than 700,000 who surrendered and more than 17,000 arrested.

The number of fatalities, however, has caught the attention of some sectors. But it is unfair to attribute all killings to Du30’s war against drugs. It is believed that members of drug syndicates are already killing each other.

Nevertheless, and let me emphasize this very strongly, it is incumbent upon the authorities to objectively investigate the killings to ensure that innocent people will not become collateral damage in this war or be sacrificed at the altar of “change.” The President should not allow scalawags in the police force to silence the people who could have exposed their protectors. He should not allow the drug lords to kill their cohorts who are about to surrender and willing to cooperate with the authorities.

After all, killing of any kind is the concern of government.

The President should remember that the popular support he enjoys is one thing, but how to sustain it is another.

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