I shuddered at the horrifying way the 71-year-old aunt of our family driver was murdered by suspected drug pushers and users. Her mouth was covered with packing tape; her legs and skull were broken; some of her nails were pulled out; and her body bore stab wounds on the neck and other parts. The neighbors believed she was killed because she used to berate suspected drug dealers from plying their trade near her house. What this horrific murder suggests is that it could only have been committed by people who were so stoned or high on drugs they have lost the last bit of conscience in them. The drug problem is for real and still, obviously, thrives.
Before President Rodrigo R. Duterte embarked on a war against illegal drugs, heinous crimes were almost a daily reading in newspapers. There were cases of fathers raping and killing their own daughters; a father killing all his children and wife and attempting to kill himself; a grandmother being raped, and so many more incomprehensible acts of atrocities. Now, police records say, the rate of heinous crimes has gone down but apparently still happens as in the case of our driver’s aunt.
The war on drugs has generally made the Filipino people feel safer. They have expressed their approval of the President’s anti-drug campaign by consistently giving him high trust ratings in surveys. While it is true that the method initially employed by police officers to carry out the war has led to abuses, resulting in the killing of some innocent people, largely, it has netted a big number of arrests and surrenders by suspected drug violators. Yet, some sectors believed to be keen on bringing down the President, have used his war on drugs as a reason to discredit his leadership or altogether oust him from the presidency.
Citizens who are spectators in the recent events have been seeing an orchestrated effort to weaken the President’s hold on authority and leadership. An impeachment complaint against the president was filed by a representative in Congress of the Magdalo party-list. The President’s most vocal critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes, is seen by many to be behind such move as the senator has openly admitted supporting the impeachment move. Almost simultaneously, Vice President Leni Robredo sent a video of herself addressing the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its 60th meeting denouncing President Duterte’s war on drugs. The Speaker of the House, Pantaleon Alvarez, was quick in saying that the vice president may have just committed an impeachable offense, adding that it is obvious the vice president is part of the move to oust Mr. Duterte as she would be the beneficiary should the President be booted from his position. Netizens and many sectors were just as quick to criticize the vice president; some even staged an impromptu rally outside the vice president’s office on Saturday.
A former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, Michael Francis Acebedo Lopez, assailed the vice president for “misrepresenting” millions of Filipinos as she claimed in her speech that she was speaking on behalf of each and every Filipino. According to Lopez, Robredo, whose mandate is in question for electoral fraud, wantonly painted a grim image of the Philippine situation to attract international attention and action with unfounded claims and unsubstantiated allegations.
Last week too, as if in concert with the moves of President Duterte’s detractors, the European Union, issued a Resolution calling on the release from prison of Senator Leila de Lima who is detained upon order of a court, on drug charges. The Department of Foreign Affairs, of course, issued a statement assailing the EU Resolution for tending to undermine the Philippine judicial processes. Worse, the EU resolution has virtually encroached on the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines which is not even its member. One can only guess how the EU came to reach such a resolution without even conducting a fact-finding investigation.
Listening to the general sentiment of Filipinos who cannot help noticing the recent unfolding of events, I sense a disgust about how some sectors are trying to rob them of their choice of the country’s leader. They say that their elected president should be given the chance to carry out his promise for change as he is their last hope. The Filipinos gave President Duterte the highest votes recorded for a presidential candidate and likewise gave him the highest trust rating of 91 percent. What the outside world is made to believe about the Philippine situation is a far cry from how the majority of Filipinos see what really obtains here. Perhaps, the weakness of the administration lies in its inability to step up to the propaganda capability of the forces behind the moves to discredit the Duterte administration.
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