By Jullie Yap Daza
Did we hear right? President Duterte throwing the “p” word at his policemen, cursing them for going beyond the pale of the law, killing in the name of the war on drugs, after he had promised to double their salaries next year?
Unless my ears deceived me, this was a first, the President publicly airing his displeasure at his enforcers. “Remember me,” he warned, not willing to let them forget that the Caloocan policemen who killed Kian Lloyd de los Santos “will go to jail if convicted.” To other cops with the same tendencies, “I know where you live, where your kabit (mistress) resides,” you can be hunted down like common criminals.
Was the President overhauling a p.r. campaign that has been conducted on tough talk via the language of “creative imagination,” all those unconventionally phrased, eyebrow-raising official pronouncements that were so easily explained away as jokes? Let us hope he’s not kidding now, because this time (he sounds like) he means business; he didn’t threaten to shoot homicidal cops or send them to Basilan – he’ll put them behind bars. About time, Sir!
‘Tis possible he was responding to Cardinal Tagle’s call to “stop wasting lives,” as stated in a pastoral letter that was unexpectedly, incredibly balanced, without blaming one side and therefore blaming all sides – merchants of drugs, hooded killers, users and their families, relapsed addicts, the police and military – stopping short of asking for a divine solution to a problem that – here it comes, Mr. President — “should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue.”
Without his warning to trigger-happy cops, the death of 17-year-old Kian could have turned a bonfire of public outrage into a conflagration after those “big-time” drug raids (32 bodies in Bulacan alone), on top of the universal anxiety over the whereabouts of a mountain of shabu that was spirited out of Customs’ green lane. Oh, yes, Mr. Duterte’s twice-delayed acceptance of Commissioner Faeldon’s resignation has added a shine to his initiation into the practice of p.r. as a public official with an image — and a nation — to protect.