It is with zero satisfaction that I write this article. I have hoped to be wrong ever since there was a whiff of political discussion on this blog. Sadly I have been proven right, and I feel that the recent events surrounding the death of the kidnap, extortion and murder involving the South Korean businessman carried out by the PNP is just the tip of the ice berg. We will continue to hear about many similar incidents that have happened in recent times, and will continue into the future.
The common theme in many of my comments on this War on Drugs is that empowering a historically corrupt police force with such unrestrained force, and ambitious objectives, was a dangerous undertaking that would lead to the country suffering long term.
How could anyone think it would be a good idea to elect someone who openly said that this exact action would be his agenda rom the day he was elected? The answer is actually very easy to understand…. Hope!
When you break down Duterte’s goals, and then examine the plan to achieve them there is a big wide gaping hole between the goal and the reality. The plan does not add up. But everyone hoped that it would work anyway. They hoped he would be able to clean up crime in six months, rid the country of corruption, even eliminate traffic (yeah right!) all in six months. To an outsider such claims sound so ridiculously outlandish they couldn’t be taken seriously. For millions of Filipinos who have been the victims of constant neglect by public officials, they hoped that it could be done.
The reality is that it can’t. No matter how aggressive the campaign, no matter how well intentioned the leadership is, no matter how noble the objectives may be. It cannot be done, and it has not been done. If law and order is what the people wanted, what they have received is the complete opposite.
I don’t think that Duterte is to blame for this. He is just doing what he said he was going to do. He does not have the brains for long term strategy. He does not have the vision or empathy to unite a country behind a collective purpose. He is a short cut kind of guy who wants results now no matter what the cost, and he is an egotistical bully. But he never pretended to be anything else.
If I tell the media that thousands of Filipinos were killed nobody panics, because its all part of the plan. But when i say that one foreign businessman will die then everyone loses their minds!
What bothers me the most about this latest incident is that it took the death of a foreigner for people to take any notice. A big part of the wave of support for Duterte centred on his push for Philippines to establish a strong national identity. People loved this, but again liked the sound of the result but nothing in between to make it happen. If you want a strong national identity it starts with caring for everyone else from your country.
The 6,000-7,000 people who have been slaughtered so far has sparked very little outrage. In fact, many are indifferent to the deaths and think they deserve it for their choice to use or sell drugs. I’m sure you have heard that whole collateral damage argument many times by now. This is not a sign of a collective and unified country ready to take on the world. It is a selfish, heartless and divisive part of the Filipino culture that has been exposed.
Without repeating much of what I have said before, I want to get back to the police action that resulted in the death of the South Korean. As bad as the incident itself, the response from authorities has been a stunning display of incompetence and shows just how amazingly short sighted and irresponsible this whole initiative has been.
To summarise the key points as they have happened:
1. Three of the police involved in the police charged with robbery and extortion have been transferred to the south of the Philippines as punishment for their crimes. Not sent to jail, not even fired from their jobs. They were just transferred and will continue on as police. It was then cited as a deterrent for offending police. They are sent to a region that is in dire need of strong law enforcement, and they send these guys there. This makes no sense at all and could lead to any number of far worse outcomes. Corrupt police in charge of handling one of the greatest threats to the country’s safety – this is expected to work?
2. Building on this bout of ridiculousness, Duterte then openly supports police earning sideline money, as long as it is not from drugs. Again this highlights the selective law enforcement that will doom the country to a perpetual cycle of third world practices and push any level of equality further down the totem pole. I also fail to see how anyone is better off with this directive in place compared to before Duterte was elected. Your president is encouraging the police – yes the police – to break the law to make money. This is after months of saying it is ok to kill people. Yet people support this.
3. The prime suspect in the incident goes missing from restrictive custody. Apparently slipping out. The PNP’s level of competency is on full display yet again. He has either been released by someone, or he has been silenced forever. If it is the latter there is an opportunity for the perpetrator to collect a handsome reward…
4. Sticking to the theme of chest beating, short sightedness and bad decisions there is now an announcement that one of the prime suspects will have a bounty placed on his head for p5 million. Let’s think about this for a moment. You have a high ranking policeman who would probably not last long in jail. You have a corrupt police force with an incredibly complicated web of crap that will need to be untangled before the country can move forward. This prime suspect will know things. The lure of something as simple as a cell not in the general prison population could be enough of a bargaining chip for him to open up about what is really going on and who the key players are in the PNP.
These are important things that could be a big step in a cycle of cleansing as they put it. If he dies that opportunity is wasted. But that’s not how Duterte solves problems. He just kills people, and further condemns his country to the endless cycle of corruption even further in doing so.
Yes the above person’s information could be complete bullshit, but when you have seven people involved any half skilled investigation team would start sifting through it. It is a starting point, not a conclusion… But that would take actual work. It is easier to just kill him and announce this to the public as a big win! That is if he is still alive now.
If you are in police custody and go missing, well the odds are slim that you will ever be seen again. What he knows I doubt we will ever find out.
5. Duterte acknowledges that the PNP is a corrupt institution and that 40% of officers are corrupt – take this figure with a grain of salt. We all know what he is like with figures. The underlying message is that the situation is bad and they cannot be trusted. Only a fool would think that this is a new development. He is solely responsible for unleashing a murderous campaign driven by a group that are dangerous. They have lived up to this reputation and people are suffering as a result. People have called for Bato to resign, he is not the one calling the shots.
6. The six month commitment to end the drug war became nine months. Now in an unusually realistic announcement Duterte acknowledges that his drug war will likely still be going on when his term ends in 2022. This is the most accurate thing he has ever said about this initiative. What he has not yet recognised is that the problem will still exist in its current form five year down the track. We will see tens of thousands more killed – many innocent – and the country will be no better off for it. At what does collateral damage become pointless waste (if you think it was ok in the first place)?
You don’t have to look too far for the ongoing support. The comments that follow articles reporting on this idiocy are met with:
“God bless to the new government”
A scary thing to read for those who want a better future for the Philippines. How many people like this are out there? However, in recent months the voices in support are noticeably being drowned out by Filipinos who are starting to wake up to what has been happening.
So where does this all lead? The answer is nowhere. This circus will continue for years to come. There will be the occasional incident that causes outrage. It will be swept under the rug with the big players in the background remaining in complete control. As with all scandalous events in Philippines politics the outrage fill fade, and in a few weeks it will be a distant memory. For the perpetrators it will be business as usual.
When Duterte’s term is approaching the end do you think he will ride off into the sunset on his horse? Or will the drug problem suddenly become virulent? My guess is that an ageing and battle weary president would not follow through with the threats of martial law, but everyone has been forewarned that it is on the cards. If he stays fit and healthy I cannot see him leaving this war unresolved and left to the next administration. He will see it as his duty to carry on his work for the good of the country, regardless of what those in the country might think.
This reminds me of the plot from Irobot – in his mind his logic is undeniable. To others it seems…. Heartless.
My recent comments that the Philippines is becoming the butt of a lot of bad jokes around the world will continue. The recent happenings sound like the plot of a satirical police movie, but they are not. This is real life.