The blue on our flag has long been gone. It has faded into nothing but red. It has been soaking up all the crimes in our country, getting more soiled the longer it flutters in the winds of the current administration.
Deep red is stained in the streets. The crimson that we fear is there to remind us of what has been happening to our country. Ruthless murders are running rampant, and careless people are holding our strings of life as if they are the Fates, ready to kill, and ready to justify these murders by calling the victims drug mules, drug addicts, drug pushers.
The ones that get blamed for these manhunts wear orange. Orange that imprisons them, suffocates them, wear down their bodies until their hair fades into white, their teeth turn yellow, and their flesh sags off their bones. They are still waiting for justice, for peace to come to them, still longing for green grass, tall trees, their homes, their families and the world outside prison.
They wait. And wait. And wait, until they can no longer do so. Then they give up. They lose hope, they forget the yellow rays of the sun, they forget the pink and orange hues of the sunrise. Their memories are now replaced by the monotony of orange, of packed cells, and of the fact that some of the people in the same cell have been wearing the same uniform for 10 years and counting.
These people may not have had pure lives, ideal lives or lives devoid of crime, but they do not deserve to be treated like cows in an abattoir. They are like you and me, imperfect, yet still capable of change.
Yet 7,000 Filipinos have been killed and the numbers continue to rise, drowning the country in a sea of red.
One of the 7,000 people was Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17 years of age. Seventeen always seemed to be a majestic age, when people decide who they want to be and pave the way for their future, but this boy’s future was taken from him when he was shot. His death was justified by the claim that he was a drug mule, despite having little to no evidence regarding this charge.
Others who met nearly identical fates include Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, a former UP Diliman student, and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14, a fifth grade student who was found stabbed 30 times in the chest area, his head wrapped in packing tape.
It has been a year since their murders, but still, to this day, crimes like these have not stopped, or been solved. There was hope at one point, when news about the three kids was the banner news in every single newspaper there was to find, when people on Twitter were spreading dates and details about when to rally in the streets, and people seemed involved, finally, in the task of finding justice for the victims of the drug war.
But that hope is gone: The drug war is old news, people on Twitter have different issues to talk about now, and our country’s hatred of drugs has become synonymous to hatred of the poor.
A hatred that has killed thousands of them. A hatred that will never be forgotten. A hatred that turned the blue on our flag into the most sickening red.
* * *
Carmelina Beltran, 16, is from Honorato C. Perez Sr. Memorial Science High School.
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.