Crippled country and its justice system

MORE FILIPINOS are becoming uneasy over the current administration’s “war against illegal drugs.”

In a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations from June 23 to 26, 41 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they were “very worried” that they or someone they know would be a victim of summary executions. This percentage rose from 37 percent in March. Likewise, 32 percent—a decrease from 36 percent in March—said they were “somewhat worried” of the same situation. Majority of the respondents, 90 percent to be exact, said it was important to capture drug suspects alive.

The survey was done before the unjust killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos by Philippine National Police (PNP) officers on August. Yet, Filipinos are starting even before to express their concerns over the bloodiest anti-illegal drug campaign in the country. Not just that, but Filipinos are starting to doubt the intentions PNP officers themselves.

PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa has previously defended his organization in a Senate hearing, saying that there are also police officers who get killed in anti-illegal drug operations. He added that it is hurtful for him that while police are putting their lives on the line during operations, some people are assuming that it is a policy for them to kill alleged drug personalities. Dela Rosa was crying during this hearing, pleading people to abandon their preconceptions on officers of the PNP.

Looking at the bigger picture, all these troubling happenings in the country tell Filipinos that there is something wrong with the execution of our government policies. Questioning whether the loyalty of PNP officers to the country has become normal, the thinking that police are not protectors but violators of human rights has become prevalent, and the idea that due process is just for the rich and powerful has become more evident. However, no one can blame Filipinos for having these thoughts.

Adding to the weight of these conceptions recently is the death of Civil Law freshman and Political Science alumnus Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in the hands of his supposed “brothers.” Atio was reportedly found dead in Tondo, Manila by a man named John Paul Solano, who previously denied any relation with the victim. Days after, it was found that Solano is a member of Aegis Juris Fraternity, the Civil-Law based fraternity involved in the hazing of Atio, and that he lied about finding the 22-year-old victim lifeless in Tondo. In a Senate hearing, Solano further revealed that he was told by a fraternity member to lie about how he found Atio.

Screenshots of the alleged conversation among Aegis Juris members days before Atio’s  death also surfaced on social media sites, and there, the death of an innocent law freshman was reduced to a mere skull emoji. Members were ordered to deactivate their Facebook accounts and keep their mouths shut as well.

Enraging as it may be, this is the truth in the country that has a law that regulates hazing. This is the truth for the future justice system of the country, in which at some point in time, will be composed of lawyers who prioritize their names more than anything else.

It is not the people’s fault if they think they are no longer safe in the Philippines. In a country where due process is selective and people who are supposed to help in finding truth and justice are cowards, every Filipino would surely be concerned of their lives.

It is not the people’s fault if they think that the country is gradually falling into ruins—it is, however, a challenge and responsibility for them and the administration to change this conception into a positive one.

Filipinos were promised “change” during the 2016 elections and many hoped that this would be finally what the country is waiting for. But not even halfway through under a new leader, and it seems like people are getting the exact opposite of a positive change. More people are becoming targets of pointless killings with only few to fight for them.

My fellow Artlets, let us help in serving justice for the victims of these unjust killings. F

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