TWO centerpiece programs of the Duterte administration — the war on illegal drugs and the war against enemies of the state — again reared their ugly heads these couple of days with two violent and bloody incidents dominating the news.
The first is the Feb. 24 “misencounter” between agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Quezon City Police Drug Enforcement Unit on Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City wherein four persons died — two cops, one PDEA agent and one PDEA informer were felled by bullets in movie-style close-range gunfight. Since both PDEA and the QC Police are claiming to be right, to be conducting legitimate sting operations to arrest the real culprits, the hard investigative work needed in this incident was assigned to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
‘The Duterte administration has shown its iron hand on issues concerning insurgency and drugs, and it is time for patriotic Filipinos to ramp up their protests.’
The second incident happened just last Sunday, March 7, in several places in the Calabarzon region. Police and military troopers raided the homes and known places frequented by human rights activists to serve search warrants issued by a Southern Tagalog judge. What were the lawmen looking for? Loose firearms and illegal explosives. This otherwise rudimentary operation resulted in the deaths of nine leftist activists, and the arrest of at least four others. Six persons were killed in Rizal province, two in Batangas, and one in Cavite, it was reported by the Region 4 police headquarters.
The killings and arrests were so blatant, methodical and coordinated that even ordinary netizens were aghast at the surgical precision of state security forces. Within minutes, the representatives of the Left in Congress were heard denouncing the “massacre” — for how do you call the systematic pruning of human lives but that?
Cristina Palabay of Karapatan called on “all Filipinos to condemn these raids and to stand with us in the struggle for justice and in defending people’s rights.” She urged the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the bloody raids and “ensure that justice and accountability is served for the victims of state terror and fascism.”
Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, hurled some more words of criticism of the President, saying the present dispensation is clearly “a murderous regime,” first with the extrajudicial killings (EJK) in connection with the anti-drugs campaign, and now, this.
It can be recalled that what happened in Calabarzon last Sunday was exactly the same as the violent raids in Negros Oriental last year, during which 14 peasants were killed. But of course, to the soldiers and cops who pulled the trigger, these farmers were communist rebels out to seize political power from the government and abuse the people.
It didn’t help any that these controversial raids were done by the nation’s security forces some 48 hours after President Duterte, in a speech in Cagayan de Oro City launching projects of the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict), urged soldiers and policemen to “kill the communist rebels.”
The Duterte administration has shown its iron hand on issues concerning insurgency and drugs, and it is time for patriotic Filipinos to ramp up their protests.