Embracing a Bloody Presidency

If I become president, it would be bloody because we’ll order the killing of all criminals, ang mga durugista at drug lords,” Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said in the first national debate on TV 5 on February 21, 2016.[1] For Duterte, the promise of peace and order will come at a hefty price — bloodshed on the streets and on the countryside.

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Alam po pag ako ang president, I will warn you I do not covet the position. Pag naging president ako, magtago na kayo. Yung 1,000 nayan it would reach 50,000. I will kill all you [expletive] breaking the life of the Filipino miserable. Papatayin ko talaga kayo…Manalo ako kasi because of breakdown of law and order. I do not want to commit a crime but if by chance, God will place me there, magbantay kayo. Yung 1,000, magiging 100,000. Dyan mo makita tataba yung isda sa Manila Bay. Dyan ko kayo itapon.I do not want to be president. I do not want to kill people so do not elect me as president.”[2]

A bloody presidency may satisfy a public demand to serve “instant justice,” but it is not the best or a just method to solve crime; in fact, it may worsen an already struggling criminal justice system. Why?

In the Philippines where judicial reforms are lacking, a shoot-to-kill policy will unjustly target the poor. Rich criminals will easily slide in and out of the underworld unnoticed. They can hire and pay good lawyers, delay litigation, evade conviction and go scot-free. But the poor criminals will have no place to hide, no good lawyers to defend them, no police to believe their stories or protect them. Sadly, it will be their blood  that will dampen the streets; their bodies that will disappear in the night.

Our law enforcement agencies will mark for target not the “dangerous” but only the “dangerous and poor.”[3] Those that are dragged in the net are the little fish: the street urchins vulnerable to the wiles of the wicked; the hirelings on the streets who trade for a measly sum to push and cart drugs away; the robbers and thieves, the pickpockets and those who kill in order to survive; and the “common tao” who happen to pass by will mostly likely suffer the brunt. But the big fish: the kingpins of smugglers, the godfathers of gangs, the corporate frauds and the circle of plunderers will all be safe and sound with their girls, goons and guns –gambling and drinking the nights away, happy and gay, untouched by the rod of fury in the mayor’s hand.

scales-of-justice-450203_640Without a strong judicial process, the method of targeting criminals with lethal force becomes discretionary and arbitrary.  For who will become the judge? Who will become the executioner? Who will determine which crimes deserve death or not? Who will decide whether killings are murders or homicide?This will be lopsided justice.

Duterte promises to build a vast and powerful police and military force reminiscent of the Marcos Days, which could become an instrument of police abuse and brutality. They will be given blanket authority to kill troublemakers in the act of committing a crime, rascals on the run who resist capture, and those who even if they freeze in surrender still pose a threat to the lives of the officers. Killings during these instances are permitted by the law to protect enforcers. With no other witnesses, however, police arrest could deviate from the protocol. Governors and mayors can carry out executions without proper disclosure and accountability; and no one will be there to tell the real story. The possible loopholes are many when an order is  made to shoot and kill.

Furthermore, the killings become dreadful when these are politically or personally motivated. Who will stop the powerful political elite or dynasties from spilling blood because of personal grudge or vendetta? Who will make sure that the police are carefully doing their job and are not on a rampage or killing spree? Only a just and balanced process can ensure justice and peace.

Some Christians justify  Duterte’s ‘bloody’ presidency based on the persona of the Avenger of Blood in the Old Testament or the “bearer of the sword” in the New Testament. Although self-defense, social defense and national defense are all allowable in Scriptures, there is danger in baptizing a Duterte-style of justice as God-mandated even if the necessary conditions are absent such as the integrity of law enforcers, the absence of political motivations and the consistency of application of justice to all social classes. [4]

Endnotes:

[1] http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/02/21/1555393/duterte-admits-bloody-presidency-if-he-win

[2] http://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/nation/06/04/15/duterte-god-will-weep-if-i-become-president

[3] (Akhilak). (2010, May). The rich get richer, the poor get prison… http://akhilak.com/blog/2010/05/17/the-rich-get-richer-the-poor-get-prison/

[4]   Note:However, in the history of Israel, there were times when God used evil kings, mean and vicious, to rule over His people and give them a rod of beating. The sins of  idolatry and false worship, sexual immorality, murders and killings, injustice and unrighteousness, apathy towards the poor are enough for God to discipline His people  so they could turn back to him. )

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