EJKs loosely defined
No one was surprised that President Rodrigo Duterte vowed no end, no letup in his campaign against illegal drugs in a speech he delivered in last Thursday’s groundbreaking of the Cebu-Cordova Expresslink bridge project in Cordova town.
It was also no surprise, given his animosity towards the Church, that he would once again rail against the Catholic Church leadership for criticizing his war on drugs even if last week marked the start of the Lenten season which is usually a period marked with forgiveness and reconciliation towards one another.
No what is mildly surprising is Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s disclosure that extrajudicial killings which came as a result of the relentless war on illegal drugs and was egged on by President Duterte’s inflammatory, even vitriolic speeches is not killings per se as defined by a previous Administrative Order 35 issued under the Aquino administration.
That same order issued of course by former president Aquino stated that killings of common criminals by police are not classified as extrajudicial killings since it was presumably done in the exercise of one’s duty as a law enforcer.
He cited the previous administration’s record in which 395 out of 1,400 killings that occurred were classified as extrajudicial killings and the victims were common criminals that were slain by “riding in tandem” or motorcycle-riding gunmen.
Problem with this picture is the frequency with which these killings occurred and the timing of its occurrence which broke out just as the Aquino administration was ending its run and victory was well in the bag for President Duterte which signaled a change in how government deals with crime especially illegal drugs.
There is some reason to believe Cayetano’s claim that some of the extrajudicial killings may be performed by illegal drug syndicates to kill off competition and to discredit the administration by giving fuel to the tirades of its fiercest critics.
But the frequency with which it occurs that reached its tipping point with the kidnapping for ransom and murder of a South Korean businessman and resulted in the temporary sidelining of the police in the war against drugs showed that the violence against criminals, most of them suspects at that, has gone way too far.
In waging war against the illegal drug syndicates, victory for this administration is defined not by the number of illegal drug lords arrested, successfully prosecuted and kept under lock and key but by the number of casualties left bleeding to death and rotting on the streets.
In part, the administration cannot be blamed for this line of thinking as shown by the continued profitable operation of the illegal drug trade behind bars.
Still, there are ways to deal with the drug menace without resorting to bloodshed and daily executions that can lead to abuse by the country’s law enforcement agencies.
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