An open letter to Senator Bato
First, I want to thank you for being “honest” about the success of the drug war that you have actively participated in way back when you were the top honcho of the Philippine National Police (PNP). In your view, success of this war is measured in the high number of fatalities, notwithstanding that some of those who were killed were innocent children and senior citizens.
You have demonstrated that honesty is not a “lonely word,” as American singer-songwriter Billy Joel croons. In that song, Joel also said that truthfulness is “hard to find.” But you have just debunked that. Thank you.
Your honesty has made the job of Karim Khan, the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), easier as you have already given him a damning admission on who to hold accountable for the thousands of fatalities in President Duterte’s drug war.
Khan, a 51-year-old British lawyer, replaces Fatou Bensouda of Gambia. On her last day as ICC prosecutor, Bensouda declared that “there is reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019.” Based on this finding, Bensouda has requested for a full inquiry into the reported cases of extrajudicial killings.
Government security forces place the number of victims of this war at more than 6,000 but human rights groups claim more than 20,000 have been killed since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016.
According to a Reuters news report, complainants in this landmark case against the President and the implementers of his bloody drug war include Randy delos Santos, uncle of Kian, a 17-year-old student who was killed by police officers in August 2017; and Normita Lopez, mother of another murdered drug suspect.
Senator Bato, now that you are being truthful about this drug war’s success indicator, perhaps you can extend your honesty to reveal exactly how this war was carried out, including details on how the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, or police assets chose whose lives were to be cut short. Did these security agents go through painstaking evidence gathering, triangulating bits and pieces of proof and data that can rationalize the execution of suspected “drug pushers or addicts”? Was a stringent investigative process followed to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that these victims were indeed “scums of the earth” and therefore deserved their untimely deaths? But these individuals are still human beings, and under a regime that respects the rule of law, they deserve at least a day in court.
Senator Bato, when you were elected as one of the country’s neophyte senators, I was somewhat elated that another Mindanao official has been added to the distinguished list of legislators at the national level. You must have been quite popular not only in our region but also throughout the country as well, since you were among the top 12 candidates who got the highest number of votes.
But your honesty in admitting your active role in the drug war that killed thousands of fellow Filipinos leaves me reeling, enough to make me retch. How can this former PNP chief who has admitted complicity in the killings of thousands become a legislator, and at the national level at that?
And to be honest with you, too, I never voted for you in 2019. If you stand for re-election, I will not be shading the box beside your name on the ballot. I would rather vote for Mickey Mouse, or Tom and Jerry, any time.
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