Not ingrates but victims of tyranny
“Ako, prangka ako na tao. You can criticize us to high heavens, but I can tell you straight sa inyong mga mata, kayong mga critic, sabihan ko kayo, ingrato kayo (I am a frank person. You can criticize us to high heavens, but I can tell you straight in the eye, you critics, I will tell you, you are ingrates),” Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said.
There was Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17. A youth, a son, a friend, a person. He was killed. And so was Jayross Brondial, 13, who was killed outside his home. His sister heard his plea to the assailant not to shoot him for he did nothing wrong. There was Djastin Lopez, a 23-year-old epileptic. There was John Jezreel David, 21, who worked hard to help send his brother to school. There was Aldrin Jore, 16. He went out for a haircut but was also killed.
They have names. They had lives and a promising future ahead. But they could not thank President Duterte’s war on drugs. This letter could be an obituary of killings, reaching up to 13,000 killed in the name of the war on drugs.
Such is the new height of insensitivity and callousness, borne out of fascism and structural tyranny. Sir Dela Rosa, the Filipinos are not ingrates. The survey said 73 percent of Filipinos are afraid that they could be killed. Do not be arrogant, sir. We are not thankful for the 13,000 killed in the bloody war on drugs. If you are trigger-happy with killings and cry during senatorial hearings, we assure you, we do not buy your drama. Your tears do not equal the tears of the orphans and parents who waited for their children’s return only to receive the news of their murder either at the hands of policemen or gunmen.
Should we be thankful? Can your words assuage the pain or somehow make it okay? Tell that to the mothers. Tell that to the fathers grieving and lamenting the loss of their sons from the bullets misused under the command of lawmen. Tell that to the multitude, whose taxes are forcibly taken and then used for this killing policy of the war on drugs. Tell that to the classmates and friends from whom these young people were taken away through brutal killings. Tell the public, “you are ingrates!”
I could tell you to imagine Kian, Jayross, Djastin or John as your child or grandson. Would you still be able to say, “Sorry my love, yours is an isolated case. You have to be grateful that you were killed.”
But I do not think this is an effective way of knocking at the door of your conscience.
“Kung walang lumalaban, walang mamamatay. Hangga’t merong lalaban, talagang may mamamatay (If no one fights back, no one ends up dead. As long as there is someone fighting back, someone will end up dead),” Dela Rosa said. This is both real and metaphorical and sends a chilling message to anyone who would resist a violation of human rights. This is tyranny, no less. And we are not thankful for this threat!
One killing is one too many. One incident of police brutality is not acceptable. These are not just numbers or statistics. People, especially the poor ones who are suffering from these abuses and killings, are not just numbers, statistics or documents. They are human beings. People deserve not only fair treatment, but sensible leadership with a heart, and not a type of rule of arrogating power unto itself by arms, weapons, and fascism.
NORMA P. DOLLAGA, Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.