FORMER senator Rene Saguisag feared the police campaign against illegal drugs would kill not just illegal drug dealers and users but also “human rights addicts.”
He referred to those brave few who have spoken out against the murder of drug crime suspects without due process and for the protection of civil liberties.
Saguisag weighed in with priests and lawmakers who are alarmed over the high surge of killings in the past few days: 32 in Bulacan alone and 81 total if they add the death toll in that province, Manila and its suburbs, in less than seven days last week.
Note the fusion for effect: “human rights” and “addicts.” And the imagery of “treacherous wounds,” which a Public Attorney’s Office lawyer used to describe the gunshot wound on the back of Kian delos Santos, 17-year-old Caloocan City student who was allegedly provided a gun and ordered to run so the police could cut him dowm. (Police describe Kian as a drug runner used by his father and uncle, which would still not justify the alleged execution.)
A national debate on an issue anywhere often produces words and phrases that catch the ear and enliven discussion.
Anthony Scaramucci, U.S. President Trump’s 10-day communication chief, used “front-stabbing,” a variation on the cliche “back-stabbing,” to describe what he was doing to his enemies at the White House.
A logical substitution but when Scaramucci said he wasn’t like Trump strategist Steve Bannon who would “suck his own c**k,” media commentators didn’t think it would work, as an expletive or as a body contortion during sex. “How could one even do that?” asked a confounded anchor of NBC’s morning talk show.
Back in this country, where debaters occasionally come up with thought-provoking words or phrases, the issue of former senator Bongbong Marcos’s election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo contributed “surgical protest.”
A lawyer or a Supreme Court justice used the phrase to describe what Marcos Jr., son of the dictator-president, wants the high tribunal to do: rule on the first issue of his protest, which questions validity of results from the voting machines. Nullify results of the Smartmatic machines count but rule only for Leni’s ouster and Bongbong’s election.
The young Marcos wants the high tribunal to void the entire 2016 poll results but apply its nullity only on the Robredo-Marcos results. Deft surgery, not unlike the gymnastic feat that Bannon’s blanking his own blank would require.
But those words and phrases excite minds and stir conversation. When Sen. Chiz Escudero said the police used a “death warrant,” not the regular search warrant, on the three houses of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., killing him and 15 others, it expressed the finality and horror of an innocent court document: when an order to search becomes a license to massacre.
Let the fascination for language, however, not obscure the terrible truth that some words and phrases could actually, inexorably convey.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2017.
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