Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dugong's anti-drugs campaign is anti-poor?

I heard President Digong over the radio announcing the names of five police generals reportedly involved in the illicit drug trade. It’s just a week after Digong’s inauguration, and his impressive anti-drugs record is surely for the books—105 people killed, two of them reportedly notorious drug lords. PDEA’s statistics show about 2 billion plus pesos worth of shabu confiscated and several Filipino and foreigners arrested, including a Taiwanese chemist who was kept alive. Some would say, “ we see Filipino street level drug pushers dead in the streets, while this Taiwanese chemist even manages to smile.”

Obviously, those fingered by Duterte professed their innocence. One of them, a former general now mayor of a town in Cebu swears that his 200 million plus assets came from “legitimate sources.” He has an industrious wife who sells pieces of jewelry and they manage numerous firms two of which are real estate companies. Another swears that his old folks did not raise him to become a drug lord protector while another asked his friends to tell journalists how he hated drugs because it caused the death of his cousin and made his elder brother sick.

While these generals are just lucky enough to be alive and even managed to have a conference with the PNP chief in his air-conditioned room at the PNP headquarters, street level drug pushers and addicts do not enjoy the same privileges. Some stories show how lopsided this campaign is being undertaken. I remember one story where a cop allowed the mob to maul a suspected rapist. At the police station, the suspect was even interviewed still alive. After a few hours, he was pronounced dead, when he reportedly wrestled with a cop for his gun. The victim had a bullet hole right smack in his heart. TV Patrol aired an interview with one of the sisters of the alleged drug pushers and she saw them still alive when the two were invited inside the office of the local police chief. Later, in just two hours, police reported the two dead—the very same way others died—by resisting arrest or by trying to get a cop’s gun. Such are the fates of these men who, by their sordid and lowly station in life, decided to lay their lives on the line just to get by.

And what made me sick was when this PNP chief dela Rosa again made a public boasts---he intends to go to the Bilibid and confront the drug lord who raised the alleged bounty for his head. When asked what he’ll do the minute he faces the drug lord, Dela Rosa intends to say “hi.” Wah?

While scores of cops just barrel their ways inside shanties of suspected drug offenders, those who profit immensely from this illicit trade, enjoy a visit and some talk with the PNP chief himself? Dela Rosa says in one interview that cops have a different approach when it comes to these big-time drug lords. “ They’re rich,” says Dela Rosa, “ and they have the means to file cases against us.” Okey, so that’s it.

So, when cops encounter rich men selling drugs, they would just secure warrants first before entering their palatial houses. While, when the offender just lives in a lowly, rag-tag house made from floating debris off the Pasig, no need for warrants. Cops can do whatever they want to do with the person—they can kill him or throw his butt to prison.

This campaign exposes how even in anti-criminality, the poor amongst us always gets the brunt end of the bargain.