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Duterte’s pogrom; rehabilitation much better

12:03 AM July 20, 2016

GOOGLE defines pogrom as an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, particularly the Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe in 1881-1884. The word is synonymous with massacre, slaughter, carnage, bloodbath without due process.

Although not exactly similar in reach, intensity and wickedness, there is little difference between the Russian pogrom and the Duterte administration’s ongoing campaign against those engaged in illegal drugs in their disregard for the sacredness of human life and lack of due process.

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Lately, various media outlets estimate that around 300 suspected drug addicts have already been killed by policemen and vigilante groups in various parts of the country since President Duterte’s inauguration last June 30, 2016. The deaths have a familiar ring to it— the victims engaged the police in a shootout; they grabbed the gun of a cop or they tried to escape. One incredible aspect of this narrative is that hardly any cop has died in the process. Parati na lang ang drug addicts ang namamatay, hello?

Life is God’s most precious gift to a human being. Because life is a gift, nobody has a right to snuff it out without just reasons. True, members of drug syndicates harm the nation and destroy the young. But many of them are themselves victims of even more pernicious conditions—poverty and marginalization from mainstream society.

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Small-time drug addicts killed without due process further victimizes those who are already victims of their unspeakable poverty. Furthermore, the killing of poor drug users smells of selective justice when alleged big patrons and coddlers of drug syndicates like police generals are accorded an audience by the chief of the Philippine National Police and assured of fair investigation. A similar “special treatment” is given to jailed Chinese drug lords—to live one more day, courtesy of the President who warned them to stay put inside “Munti,” otherwise they would be killed if they venture out of prison.

In the meantime the lowlife drug users are banished from the land of the living with dispatch! Ano ba ito? Palakasan?

President Duterte is called “The Punisher.” But now that the number of drug addicts killed continues to rise, should it be more appropriate to call him “The Exterminator?”

Once again, Our Lord’s words: “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). How I wish that the Duterte presidency would be known more for extending lives rather than shortening it by murdering the people who most need his care.

Extending life means establishing around the country counseling centers manned by competent staff (psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, spiritual advisers, etc.) equipped with the tools they need to shepherd drug dependents on the road to wellness. It is plain naiveté to think that a mere promise to stop using drugs, without the necessary psychosocial programs, will help drug dependents kick their bad habit.

Medical professionals dealing with drug dependents will attest to the fact that not even fear of death can snatch a person whose brain has been seared by drugs from this deadly habit. Only a sensible program of rehabilitation can give them a fighting chance to begin a new life.

—CARLOS ISLES, [email protected]

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TAGS: drug addict, drug killings, drugs, Duterte, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, rehabilitation, Rodrigo Duterte
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