Like a Herodian decree | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

Like a Herodian decree

/ 04:06 AM December 24, 2020

The Christmas story or the account of Jesus’ birth in the Bible is fraught with difficulties, challenges, and danger not so unlike what many people experience now. It is marked by tragedy and death because of the order of Herod, the King of Judea at that time, that male babies two years old and below, the baby Jesus he hoped to be among them, born in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Mathew 2:16-18), be killed. That bloody massacre is marked in the Christian liturgical calendar as Holy Innocents’ Day.

With that, the heartrending words of the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.”


Fast forward 2,053 years or so later. Even as Christmas Day draws near, groups of concerned Filipinos cry out to protest the continuing killing of innocents who had been marked, tagged, and listed.

The Women Writers in Media Now (WOMEN) have stepped up to join the outcry, something second nature to them, dating back to the dark martial law years of the Marcos dictatorship. The WOMEN continue to jostle with their pens, so the Dec. 18, 2020 statement titled: “Duterte’s red-tagging and narco-listing are a death sentence.”


“President Rodrigo Duterte’s RED-TAGGING and NARCO-LISTING are a form of mind-conditioning—the kind used by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels against the Jews and other perceived enemies of the Nazi regime. It is dangerous and lethal because it is designed to dehumanize its targets and sets them up for the kill.

“Duterte’s predisposition for labeling and listing his perceived enemies as ‘Communists and/or Drug Dealers and Users’ has brought about record-breaking assassinations—STILL UNRESOLVED—of alleged ‘communist terrorists’ and ‘narco-politicians’ in the four and a half years since he took office. To these, the President boasts of having killed his enemies with his own hands and yet protests that he has nothing to do with the ‘random’ killings.

“But Duterte is, in fact, the source of the lists, and of the order to shoot to kill persons whose names are on them. To our collective horror, we have witnessed how Duterte’s narco-listing of mayors and other local officials has become a declared ‘open season’ on them, with cold-blooded killers guaranteed immunity from arrest and prosecution.

“This modus operandi that began in July 2016, right after Duterte took his oath of office, resulted in the cold-blooded extrajudicial killing of some 30,000 suspected drug users and peddlers, most of whom were poor. Such impunity prompted the International Criminal Court to investigate Duterte’s complicity.

“The horrible bloodbath continues. Journalists, lawyers, and even judges have been gunned down. And there is a definite pattern in all this. There was the ailing Randall Echanis stabbed in his Quezon City home last August, the young mother and social activist Zara Alvarez gunned down in broad daylight, the 69-year-old Magpantay-Topacio couple in Angono surrounded by dozens of uniformed men at 3 a.m. and killed last month. And just the other day, in Negros Oriental, Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan and her husband Edwin were killed near their home. All of them were red-tagged by Duterte and his followers.

“The ‘illegal possession of firearms’ charge has become an ominous refrain to justify the recent arrest of journalist Lady Ann Salem, six labor organizers and Randall’s daughter Amanda Echanis with her baby not even one month old, even while the evidence points to the outright planting of firearms and explosives in their domiciles.

“Politicians, celebrities, journalists, religious men and women, health workers, lumads, labor leaders and others who have taken a stand against the undemocratic policies of the Duterte regime continue to be harassed, tagged.


“Even Vice President Leni Robredo has become the Duterte regime’s perceived enemy as she is currently being red-tagged by a rabid army of paid trolls. With the pandemic decimating thousands of Filipinos, in the midst of natural calamities that leave the countless poor abandoned, jobless, homeless, and hungry, the red-tagging continues.

“Red-tagging and narco-listing are tantamount to a death sentence. They have no place in a democracy. They must be outlawed and denounced before the world.”

May Christmas 2020 be truly memorable, may our commitment to justice stoke the embers of December and set our hearts on fire.

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TAGS: Birth of Jesus, Christmas, drug war, EJK, impunity, Jesus Christ, justice, narco-listing, red-tagging
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