Rationalising Criticism of Deaths as “Only Seeing the Negative Side”

Usually I would share blog posts on Facebook, but today I wanted to go the opposite way and share a Facebook post on the blog.

It has been a controversial week with the escalation in the intensity of this drug war, inevitably leading to errors on the part of the PNP. No big surprises there.

The issue has been far more polarising this time around and we grow closer and closer to a point where people will say enough is enough.

Rather than defending the indefensible we have a growing list of people deflecting from the issue of the poorly thought out and recklessly managed drug war by talking about the lack of outrage from people in response to regular crimes. A position that is understandable, but doesn’t make any logical sense.

That is the context of this post and from here I will copy an example from someone’s FB page, and then my response. I had to post this on my own page as comments were restricted on the original posters page. I do hope that my response ends up in front of him somehow.

You can check out the original source on the FB Page. 

The original post

In December of 1994, I went home from school looking at the sympathetic eyes of my neighbors. They never said a word but the tremendous silence and uncomfortable stares told me something was wrong. And my gut feeling was right. I arrived home to find out my eldest brother was arrested due to possession of methamphetamine (shabu). Yes, my brother was a pusher. That was how I learned about drugs. I was 10 years old. Much ahead of my peers. It was the saddest Christmas and New Year of my family. We visited my brother in prison (Lumbia) and that experience was one of the things I don’t want to remember. With the support of my father, my brother was bailed out of jail. After that, he had to report to PDEA for a certain period to completely clear his record. But the effect of trauma shattered my innocence and it took me years to overcome such horrible event.

That is the reason why President Duterte’s War on Drugs is so personal to me. And I commend him for prioritizing a social problem that no other sitting president has done. But the recent death of a 17-year old Kian Lloyd de los Santos instigated much more an already furious debate. While I support the call for the punishment of those responsible for his death, I can’t help but ponder over the incident.

What bothers me is the fact that his death became too sensationalized. As a former editor of a university publication, I know that when a news is sensationalized, its main objective is to provoke the public interest at the expense of ACCURACY. Thus, I feel suspicious about it. It’s as if “they” are trying so hard to talk about this issue to forget another one. It’s easy to tell that it was all over the mainstream media, EVEN PRIOR TO THE INITIAL INVESTIGATION, with more airtime compared to previous news that were equally, if not more, pressing. And yes, I’m talking about the Bautista brothers’ questionable wealth. As far as I know, the media were almost mum about the progress of this case. I have seen this approach before. Too many times, in fact. In the previous administration, this was the time Kris Aquino had to spark a controversy in order to sway people’s attention away from his brother’s. Nostalgic, isn’t it?

As I read the news today pertaining to a woman who was “stabbed, burned, and possibly raped” in my city, it’s inevitable for me to ask why this crime doesn’t get the same amount of news coverage. To those who flooded my Timeline with their atrocious remarks vis-à-vis Kian’s death, your silence on this issue is so deafening.

Kian’s death is now being used to ignite the people to revolt against the President. I’m not surprised though; LP’s game plan has always involved playing with people’s emotions. Argumentum ad misericordiam. An appeal to pity. A fallacy in which someone exploits the feelings of pity or guilt to win support. They have done it before and they keep doing it again. Remember the melodramatic headline photo (pieta) published by Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 24, 2016? It’s the same strategy. Using the sentiments of the people brought about by this incident, it can be expected to see them staging a rally to demand President Duterte to step down. When that happens, don’t tell me you weren’t warned.

While I condemn the killing of innocents, I condemn even more those politicians who use this kind of situations to further their personal and/or political agenda. I condemn Leni Robredo and Risa Hontiveros for their audacity, which, by the way, involves maximized media coverage, to sympathize with the alleged criminals and for their failure to show the same amount of solicitude to the victims. Where were they during those several occasions when criminals killed the victims? I also condemn those personalities who urge the president to resign because of his imperfections. Who are they to reproach the more than 16 Million Filipinos who voted for him? Lastly, I condemn every drug syndicate, every politician and every policeman who is involved in drug business. For all we know, they may be the very same people who orchestrate the drug operations in order to protect themselves, with zero fear whatsoever that innocent lives may pay the price.

As citizens, it’s laudable to criticize, if and only if, our objective is to help the government achieve its goals. But if we criticize with the obvious manifestation that we only see the negative side of our current leaders and/or with the intention of changing the incumbent administration simply because we believe our political party is better, when in fact, that party has not done anything to alleviate this problem when it had its chance, then that is hypocrisy. And pride. And greed.

This war against drugs/narcopolitics is bloody as expected. We don’t live in an ideal world where absolute perfection exists. This is reality. And in the real world, nothing comes easy. There’s no shortcut to success. We stumble and fall, but we stand up. Humans are naturally reluctant to change, and thus we need a strong leader to facilitate such change. It’s hard to accommodate everyone’s desire to fit in a perfect circle. Maybe it’s much wiser to ask ourselves how we can support the government than to become a mere lookout waiting for it to fail. I said it before, and I will say it again, if this is what it takes in order to have a long-lasting safety, peace and economic growth for our country, then so be it. God bless the Philippines!

And my response:

 

Interesting that you can dismiss the death of thousands of your countrymen as “seeing the negative side.”

One thing is for sure, whatever “change” you were all hoping for will never be achieved as long as human life remains cheap in the Philippines.

People do not need the LP to be angry at a president who has encouraged the killing of its citizens at the hands of a PNP that has been openly acknowledged as a corrupt organisation. That is reckless management of the problem no matter which way you look at it. You are right in saying that there is no shortcut to sucess, but that is what you appear to support.

It will take decades of reform to overhaul the justice system, corrupt and inefficient bureaucracies, PNP, infrastructure and all of the things desperately needed to make the Philippines prosper. I have not seen any of that started yet. Have you? Just band aid solutions that have led to a lot of dead people, and division amongst the living.

A strong leader inspires people to want to be better, and unites people behind a purpose bigger than themselves. Forcing discipline on people will not work long term… Unless you want to live like North Koreans.

Duterte has a very difficult task in front of him and has the opportunity to be compared with greats like Nelson Mandela if he could truly unite a country and pull it out of decades of pain and neglect. Unfortunately for everyone he has gone the other route and is being compared to Pol Pot and Hitler instead. You cannot blame anyone for that but him.

I don’t think anyone would not condemn some of the horrible crimes that are committed in the Philippines. Murder, rape, theft etc. All terrible things. Comparing them with the recent outcry doesnt make a lot of sense though because criminals have not taken an oath to protect the people, and are not paid to do so. Completely different issues… The police may even be better placed to deal with these crimes if they were not forced into other priorities.

Anyway, i know many people don’t like foreigners commenting on these issues. So feel free to ignore this. But one thing you can consider is that i do not care about the politics of it all. I have no reason to…. So rather than polarising the issues, perhaps holding your current president to a higher standard of problem solving could benefit all? You have more options than you think to solve these issues (that also includes the SCS issue – go to war with china? Please! You have the whole world on your side).

Whether anyone in power is receptive to a higher standard is another story. At least then you will know what matters most to them. Their country, or their ego…

Anyway, i will continue hoping for the prosperity of the Philippines for the sake of all of you. You are on a dark path now though and there is a long way to go.

… and that last part is what shoud linger in people’s minds. There is a long way to go. How bad will things get before people say enough is enough? Perhaps they never will.

 

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