President Rodrigo Duterte once again, slammed his critics as he singled out the United Nations (UN) for criticizing his ruthless war on drugs. In fact, the tough-talking former mayor of Davao City even threatened to pull out the Philippines from the UN last Aug. 21, should the organization interfere with his administration’s initiative regarding his unorthodox way of dealing with corruption, criminality, and illegal drugs in the country.
Tragically, more than 1,500 people have been killed since Duterte took office last June 30, which leads to fierce criticisms from the UN and various human rights groups, both with the belief of carrying a framework that respects human rights, alleviating poverty, and upholding due process of the law.
Duterte said that his government cannot be investigated despite recent reports on the spate of killings against criminals, drug users and pushers in vigilante attacks and police operations, claiming that those actions are likely perpetrated by drug syndicates currently purging their ranks.
Unfortunately, with the rise of extrajudicial killings that are happening in the Philippines, these will not only add to the misery of the poor, it will also do a severe harm to the state of the country’s democracy.
While the government claims that those deeds are done by vigilantes, unidentified gunmen, and law enforcers which are out of their control, they must be accountable for preventing those killings from developing any further.
It is also time that the government and local authorities acknowledge the fact that drug abuse should be seen as a public health scare and should not be treated with brute force because violence will continue to breed violence from the people rebelling against the government no matter how the current Duterte administration manages to inspire public fear in order to bring national cleansing and reconstruction.
The UN and various human rights groups are right in terms of combating drug abuse through rehabilitation programs in lessening drug-related crimes, eliminating impunity or the freedom from punishment, and ensuring the right to fair trial that is in line with the Bill of Rights: that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court.
Us, as a people should recognize the law, its sanctions and proper proceedings in dealing with drug abuse. Everyone deserves a chance in proving their innocence. It is one that our president, who in fact is a lawyer, must understand. All lives matter, whether the person is a drug user or not.