LAST Monday, I wrote a short piece on Facebook which garnered more attention than my usual posts. Some liked it and some did not. Some welcomed it, while others called me colorful names because of it. A few people suggested in private that I should publish it in my regular column and I have been wrestling with myself for the past hour or so if I should incorporate some realizations into the piece or just publish it as is.
I have decided to just publish it in its original form and deal with the reactions and my subsequent reflections on them in the next article:
I have been asked if I regretted voting for Duterte in 2016, with some even implying that an apology was in order for doing so.
The answer is no.
My vote in 2016 was a vote against the establishment, against the business-as-usual practices of government, against crime and corruption, and against smiling politicians posing for a photo-op with relief goods while secretly siphoning billions away of the people's money.
My vote was a vote for federalism, for decentralization of power, and what I considered a better form of government. My vote was for a leader who could back words with action, who had tangible results to show from all his years in leadership.
So presented with the choices for president, though there wasn't really much to like about the choices, I made a choice anyway and cast my vote.
So no, I do not regret voting for Duterte, and no apologies are forthcoming for exercising my right and making a judgment call based on what I thought was the best (as is anybody else's right). Were I to travel back in time, I don't think I would have voted any other way.
I will, however, express disappointment on several things going on in this administration. I am saddened by the needless loss of lives in this drug war. While I am all for conducting legitimate police operations, backing them up with proper training and equipment, I am against planting evidence and inciting suspects to "fight back" just to bury a bullet in their heads.
Unfortunately, the president did not live up to his promise to be "more presidentiable" once he assumed the mantle, and instead uttered careless words that many take as a justification for police to act with impunity. It does not matter if the words were said in jest, in hyperbole, or whatever spin they concoct. What matters is they were indeed uttered and lives have been lost in their utterance, and for that he is accountable and answerable to the people.
This is no longer election time when you have to regale voters with humor, double-speak, street slang and exaggerated promises. Now is the time for clear communication, to say what you mean and mean what you say. After all, you leave a very confused public when on the one hand you tell us that you will not tolerate police abuse while on the other, you encourage the police to give the alleged pushers guns so they can fight back and provide a reason for being shot down.
I am disappointed that General de la Rosa did not take seriously the suggestion that police should wear body cameras. If we are to be serious about transparency and accountability in operations, then he should not dismiss this for mere lack of funds but find ways in order to implement it. If there is indeed nothing to hide and operations are above-board, then why not? This will even aid in going after those cops who are indeed scalawags.
I am disappointed at how the CHR has been demonized and painted as a useless entity. As has been pointed out time and again, the CHR exists to protect us from government abuses. Despite the general term "human rights," it is not their job to go after kidnappers or those killed by drug addicts (that's what the police are for). The office was created with a specific mandate and that is what they are doing. For example, if the police are the ones abusing you, you understandably do not want to run to the police for help. You go to the CHR. That is not so difficult to understand.
I am disappointed as well in how "mainstream media" has been painted as evil and bloggers as a better alternative (especially if they are remunerated for their services by the Office of the President). While there are indeed dishonest media practitioners, the same can be said of bloggers. This does not warrant any sort of blanket generalization for either group.
So there, no apologies, but sadness and anger for the lack of due process, and a deep desire for this administration to step up and do better.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on August 25, 2017.
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