WE ARE over a hundred million Filipinos in the country and somehow it is expected for some people to die every day. But most news do not provide us with people dying naturally. They provide us with news of rapes; theft; murders of priests, government officials, journalists and thousands of ordinary citizens as if the rule of law is dead itself.
The strongest message of then presidential candidate Duterte was to combat and eliminate crimes. This was the message heard by Filipinos and they felt he was sincere about it. So he got overwhelming votes that surprised even expert political analysts. The president started his notorious drug campaign that shook the entire country. The intention was good but the manner was criticized for its violence.
The president thought he could rely on the police force for proper and humane implementation of the drug campaign. Then the killings began. When critics appeared, the president took it as personal attack so instead of looking on the loopholes of the drug campaign program, he lambasted critics and sided with the police even defending them when they were wrong. The killings continued.
Criminals saw opportunity to use the drug campaign to their advantage. When they realized some actuation of police officials against suspected drug pushers and users was not different to their ways, they use it to eliminate competitors. The killings escalated to a high level.
News about killings flooded the media for months and year since Duterte took Malacañang. Criminals and innocents fell. People walking in the open street and those sitting in the cold prison cells were gunned down.
People were alarmed and stunned with all the killings and because it happened every day, it became part of the system.
Killing has unknowingly become a culture for us. People thought that the deaths of two or three persons in a day were normal. While these were happening, the president was busy defending the campaign and the police officers despite the truth that some police officers’ acts were really condemnable.
The president was busy lambasting his critics and cursing the world and God. The Filipinos then felt that these crimes will not stop because Duterte somehow saw it as the only way to stop the drug problem. So people learned to live with these killings. It became part of our daily lives. The Philippines witnessed people being murdered daily.
Killings has crept in our system. No one was spared. The country with its rich religiosity and with its majestic scenery has become a killing ground. The criminals has totally lost respect in humanity. Instead of fearing the notoriousness of the president, it paved way for cold-bloodedness.
We live in a country where killings is a routine. And people living in anger, frustration, depression, and hatred to see killing as a way to solve problems triggered by the widespread violence in the country.
The Philippine Church is facing one of its biggest challenges in modern history. The sixth commandment, “You shall not kill” has no longer the same effect on people. This commandment should remind us of the dignity of others. Everyone should be respected. Lives should be taken care of, protected and not wasted. We do not harm others because we have fear of the Lord, a gift from the Holy Spirit. But one who does not fully rooted in one’s faith in God can easily be persuaded of the cheapness of life especially when a president calls God “stupid.”
One crime leads to another. When criminals killed a priest, another got the courage to kill another. When one mayor or official was sniped, another person did the same. And it goes on and on until the culture of killing was set. It is very unfortunate this is all happening in our dear country.
Duterte must think that he is a creating a system and culture with all his actuations and remarks. If we would like the killing to stop the president must tone down or else this country will be damned.