Extrajudicial killings are justified because of the failure of the judicial system to stop the spread of illegal drugs in the Philippines — or so the blame game goes.
The courts are criticized for the slow grind of justice, which is blamed as a major cause of the rapid growth of the trade in illegal drugs in the Philippines. Drug syndicates grew by leaps and bounds and drug users multiplied rapidly because the courts are either slow to perform or have been corrupted not to perform their duty of exacting punishment on drug criminals — or so the argument goes.
No less than President Duterte has voiced this blame line to justify his scorched-earth policy: a bloody war on drugs that has resulted in an estimated 13,000 deaths so far. And many supporters of the war on drugs believe that our dysfunctional judicial system is largely responsible for the drug menace.
The slow grind of justice in the courts, as well as the anecdotal existence of corrupt judges, is certainly a factor in the spread of drugs. But how big a factor is it, compared to the many other factors that have caused the drug trade to grow? The answer to this question will reveal a fundamental mistake in the assignment of blame and in the grant of trust in the war on drugs.
Something is really wrong with a judicial system that has caused the drug problem to worsen. But whatever fault can be attributed to the judiciary is nothing compared to the guilt of the police force which is multiple times more responsible for the spread of drugs in the communities.
Whatever drug cases reach the courts originate from the police. If none of the big-time drug dealers, a tiny number of the army of drug peddlers, and a small percentage of the millions of alleged drug users are prosecuted in the courts, blame must be laid at the doorstep of the police force.
Policemen do the surveillance, investigation, and patrol work in every barangay. They know, or ought to know, the drug personalities in each barangay. If the drug trade has proliferated widely in any barangay, it can only be because the police are either in conspiracy with the drug syndicates or have been coopted to look the
other way. Show me a barangay with a drug problem and I’ll show you a police force in bed with drug syndicates.
The broad assignment of blame on judges and the sweeping grant of trust in policemen have produced a chilling effect on judges. The word on the ground is that judges now are hesitant to issue decisions of acquittal in drug cases—even if the evidence of innocence is very clear because of unreliable evidence or blatant police frame-up—for fear that they will be branded coddlers of drug syndicates. This is a very dangerous development considering that now is the time when we need judges who will fearlessly call out bogus charges filed by abusive policemen.
Given the involvement of many cops in the flourishing of the trade in illegal drugs in the communities, it is tragic and disastrous for President Duterte to continue declaring his trust in the police force in solving the drug menace.
There is a crying need for the weeding out of the many rotten members of the police force. The crooked cops who collaborated with drug lords in spreading drugs in the communities are the same cold-blooded murderers waging the war on drugs. Because of their criminally predisposed minds, they have no qualms in killing even innocent children.
The police force keeps looking outward in search of big drug syndicates when it should be looking inward to find the scalawags in its ranks who are key members of these syndicates.
President Duterte gave his marching orders to the entire police force to forge outward by waging a ruthless war on drugs in the communities. He would achieve far better results in his centerpiece war by first waging it inward, with a thorough cleansing of the police force.
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