By Leandro DD Coronel
Many people aren’t bothered by President Duterte’s shortcuts in getting things done. They’re not bothered that people are getting killed without due process.
Mr. Duterte’s so-called war on drugs has been going on since his election. It’s been relentless, ruthless, and remorseless. The daily toll of dead bodies has included not only those of crime suspects but also of innocents, felled by gunmen’s bullets. Anguished parents cry over their dead children. The mothers, particularly, are inconsolable.
Mr. Duterte has given a perfunctory “sorry” for the collateral damage involving both innocent children and adults. But it was said with a cold-hearted statement that war will always have collateral damage.
But is it really a war? An actual war must have two shooting sides. On the whole, the President’s war has been one-sided, with the police mainly doing the shooting. Mr. Duterte can claim that he has lost some policemen and soldiers, but the number of deaths is skewed overwhelmingly against dead civilians.
It is Mr. Duterte’s legal shortcuts that are troubling. His reasoning for the killings is astounding: That because there are no rehab centers, his only recourse is to just kill drug addicts.
And even that doesn’t tally with his statement that a drug addict is already useless as a human being, so the best solution is to kill the addict. That statement contradicts Duterte’s earlier one about the lack of rehab centers. He never intended to have addicts rehabilitated, precisely because he thinks they’re beyond salvation as functioning and productive human beings.
Thus the killings, which now number more than 6,000 in six months. And yet there’s no widespread outrage among the people over the killings. What does that say about us as a society?
Killing people without due process is murder, plain and simple. This is what triggers many people’s indignation here and abroad. We’re killing human beings without first judging them guilty. And we don’t even have a death penalty in place.
And yet many Filipinos like Duterte despite his shortcut ways. Actually, they like him because of his shortcut ways.
What is stunning is the kind of support many Filipinos give to Mr. Duterte’s autocratic style. It shows that our level of discernment of merciful justice and of civilized conduct is still low compared to the advanced nations. In those nations, people’s levels of discernment are more or less at par throughout their society. In the Philippines such understanding of civilized conduct varies widely among us. Thus there are those who approve of short-cutting the legal process.
People may approve of the President’s style of shortcut governance. This is mainly because of three possible reasons. One, they find democratic due process too tedious and slow. Two is their tolerance, even preference, for the archaic type of retributive eye-for-eye justice.
And three, they haven’t experienced deaths in their families from summary killings. That is often the case until people suffer from such incidents.
The level of public support for Mr. Duterte is high at the moment because people like his being an action man, decisive, ruthless, and unfeeling. We Filipinos don’t care about due process. Due process takes time, summary killings are swift and permanent.
People who are disturbed by summary killings are not “bleeding hearts,” as the President likes to call them. Rather, they are people who care that the law takes its course instead of summary justice where suspects are killed on sight.
Many of us like that because it’s efficient, with no fuss, no hassle. We’re a people who like shortcuts, we like beating the “system,” circumventing or cheating established norms. That’s the work of lazy people, shortcuts.
And then we only cry to the heavens for justice when we fall victim to the same shortcuts.
Tantrum Ergo. Why do drivers use their turn signals on the road but not inside housing subdivisions? Notice for yourself.