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(1) The moral dilemma of extra judicial killings by Raymund Narag, Published on

Oct. 2, 2016
'There is no excuse to undermine our already fragile laws and weak constitution'
Imagine this:
Person A was found to have 5 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) at
the back pocket of his pants. Is Person A guilty of drug possession?
Probably yes. Most of the time, Person A will be convicted of violating Republic 9165
or the New Dangerous Drugs Act of the Philippines.
But there are instances that Person A can be innocent:
1. When the shabu found in the back pocket of his pants was "planted" as evidence
by the police;
2. When Person A is a minor (say less than 12 years old); not aware that it was
shabu; and Person A was unknowingly used as a courier by drug syndicates;
3. When Person A is insane;
4. Other legal factors that may exculpate Person A of the crime.
That is why, Person A may be factually guilty of the crime (there is drugs on his/her
body), but he/she can be legally innocent (it is planted evidence, he/she is minor,
insane, etc). As such, there is a necessity for an impartial body and an established
procedure to determine both the facts and the law.
It is up for the police and the prosecutor to prove the factual guilt, for the defense
lawyer to highlight the legal innocence, and for a judge to determine if the factual
guilt had been established beyond reasonable doubt and had met the requirements
of legal guilt. This is the due process mechanism that is enshrined in the Philippine
Constitution.
And that is the moral dilemma of Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) by the police. Guided by
a moral certainty that they are cleansing Philippine society from the dregs of drugs,
the police are given the license to be reckless and absolutethe police power to
investigate, to prosecute, to deny defense, to judge, and to execute people. By
simply claiming that they were attacked by the suspects, (which needs to be
factually and legally established as well), the police have abrogated and
destabilized the whole procedure. While they may be killing factually guilty people
(actual drug dealers and users), there is an undeniably huge chance that many of
the dead people may turn out legally innocent, if only given the proper forum to
defend themselves. (READ: Duterte on EJK: Better for criminals to kill each other)

Additionally, EJK is a uniform set of capital punishment that does not distinguish the
level seriousness of the offense: a first time drug user is quite different from an
incorrigible drug dealer but are treated the same waythey are both dead. As such,
police EJK takes away the power from judges to determine the proportionate
amount of punishments. EJK removes the opportunity for correctional workers to
rehabilitate drug users. While EJK is swift and severe, it is procedurally flawed and
invites and creates more injustices.
While we abhor crime and drug use in the country, and we recognize the slow
procedures that afflict our criminal justice system, these should NOT be an excuse
for reckless killings. While we denounce the corrupt practices of the prosecutors,
defense lawyers, and judges, and the failure of the legal profession in the
Philippines, these frailties should NOT be an excuse to undermine our already fragile
laws and weak constitution.
Otherwise, we are all morally guilty in the wanton genocide of our own people.

(2) Thoughts on Extrajudicial Killings and Unexplained Disappearances


by: PJ Ruben T. Reyes and J. Mariano C. Del Castillo
Sadly, the Philippines in the eyes of the international community has a very poor
human rights record due to its alarming incidence of extrajudicial killings and
unexplained disappearances/abductions of private individuals without anyone being
held accountable. And now, various sectors of the society are prodded to seek for
viable solutions to address the poor human rights problems of the country.
We sincerely believe that the root of the problem is not really much on the laws
related to curbing and punishing human rights violators. Actually, it has always
been the implementation of these laws. As part of the judicial institution whose
power is drawn from the pen, we are here to present some issues to be mulled over.
1. There is a need for a clear-cut definition of what extrajudicial killing is, for
homicide and murder are extrajudicial killings too. The name is a misnomer since
every killing, outside of the death penalty, is extrajudicial. Shouldnt the crime be
called a political killing instead? When will a case fall under extrajudicial killings in
order that the special court can assume jurisdiction? Thus, the motive must be
determined during investigation. This is relevant in the light of the existence of
special courts to handle such cases. A categorical definition would pinpoint who are
to be held liable and who are the victims.
An international NGO observed that such extrajudicial killings in the Philippines
show a common pattern:
Surveillance and threats to the victims presumptively by officers;

Finding their names in an Order of Battle by military commanders;


Victim has an affiliation with lawful activist or leftist movements and political parties
(including labor, journalism, women, peasants, environmental and other sectors);
Assassination (often in front of the families and friends) by hooded persons often
driving motorbikes or unlicensed vehicles;
Scant investigation;
Witness intimidation and sometimes witness murder.
The above traits, however, may also be present in killings made by groups like the
Abu Sayaff, MILF, or even political opponents. How then do we distinguish these
crimes, especially in determining jurisdiction of special courts?
2. The investigation, evidence-gathering, and the witness protection program of the
State must be strengthened. A speedy and full investigation on the part of the
police must be done. Also, the witnesses to these human rights crimes must be
encouraged to testify, for they will have to go up against the police and the military.
They must be assured that they will be protected during the investigation and the
trial proceedings.
3. The possibility of putting up a multisectoral agency composed of representatives
from the NGOs, civil society, military, police, church, media, and the judiciary. Such
will focus solely on investigating such human rights crimes and serve as prosecutor.
And this agency can report its findings to the court handling the case.
4. The need to educate and orient the police and military thru seminars about our
laws on human rights, reminding them that the country is a civilian society and that
the rights of the people to association, to privacy, to liberty, and to life, must be
protected at all times. The police and military should act within the bounds of law
and not attack indiscriminately whom they call insurgents.
5. The judiciary will have to bring back the confidence of the people in it by speedily
disposing cases involving human rights violations, holding the perpetrators fully
accountable to the crimes. Incidentally, another thing to consider is this: If one is
merely acting under the orders of a superior, will the former be exculpated or will
there be a solidary liability as principals?
We hope that this summit will not turn out to be just rhetoric. The judiciary for sure
is facing another challenge and expresses its cooperation to address the problem.
The bottom line is actually the political will Are we ready to prosecute the top
guns behind these human rights crimes?

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(5) Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines - Five urgent calls to action to the
international community
Pax Christi International, with Franciscans International and members of Pax Christi
Philippines, is concerned by the alarming human rights situation in the Philippines
caused by the presidents shoot to kill policy[1], which carries out extrajudicial
executions of drugs users, dealers and other criminals. In the last three months,
more than 3,600 people have been killed 1,390 in police operations and 2,294 by
purported vigilantes and death squads allegedly set up.[2]
These extrajudicial killings are a grave violation of fundamental human rights,
including the right to life and the right to have due process. Moreover, they are also
severe breaches of other prin-ciples of the rule of law, such as not holding police
officers who have committed such offences accountable and not giving justice to
victims through upholding national and international laws. Looking at the gravity of
the situation, more action is urgently needed. We thus recommend that the
international community take the following actions:
1. Politically pressure the government to stop extrajudicial executions
The President and other government officials of the Philippines have the obligation
to protect and respect the human rights of people and uphold the rule of law. But
this does not seem to be the case, as illustrated by the Philippine Senate ousting
the chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, reportedly for her inquiry
into the surge of killings.[3] We urge the international community to address this
situation through their contacts with the government.
2. Push for impartial investigations to be carried out by the United Nations
Clearly, the human rights situation in the Philippines should be permanently
monitored in order to detect violations and ask the government for explanations and
to pursue action. The UN human rights mechanisms have an important role to play
in this regard, such as the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
which has recently examined the periodic report of the Philippines on the
implementation of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[4]
Also, this includes the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions and Special Rapporteur on the right to health, who last month made a

statement condemning the situation.[5] It is worrisome that the government puts


conditions on the visits of UN personnel implementing such human rights
mechanisms, as they should have full access to information and people for objective
investigations.
3. Support human rights defenders in their fundamental work
According to the UN, the Philippines is the second most dangerous country in the
world for human rights defenders, with the number being murdered high.[6] We ask
the international community to support human rights defenders through their
policies and programmes. Here we refer to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights
Defenders[7] and ask the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the
European Commission, as well as Member States, to reinforce this both in their work
with human rights defenders and their contacts with the government.
4. Help to reform judicial and police institutions
The government has been able to violate fundamental rights and the rule of law on
a very large scale due to insufficient functioning of judicial and police institutions. It
is therefore crucial that the international community helps reform them. In 2013,
the EU and the government of the Philippines embarked on a major reform in the
field of justice and the rule of law through a comprehensive support program.[8] We
ask the EU to encourage all efforts for this reform to actually take place and to
address the issue of extrajudicial killings.
5. Promote nonviolent initiatives in response to the culture of violence
Many lives and families have been destroyed by drug use and drug-related violence.
What con-cerns our organizations is that the government calls the crisis a war and
views violence as the acceptable response. We are concerned that the position and
pronouncements of government officials on this issue promote a culture of violence.
A nation cannot be built on this climate of uncertainty, distrust and exclusion. We
therefore ask the international community to support nonviolent initiatives, such as
through international development and cooperation funding.
We call on the government of the Philippines to seek nonviolent solutions to the
problem of drugs and crime and to build a culture of peace. It would help if the
international community could do everything possible to extend its support for this.

(6) The human toll of the Philippines war on drugs published on September 15,
2016, The Economist
Extrajudicial killings have spiked since the election of Rodrigo Duterte

RODRIGO DUTERTE won a landslide victory to become president of the Philippines in


May. During his election campaign Mr Duterte vowed to stamp out crime within six
months. On the day he took office, he told police officers that if they killed 1,000
people while doing their duty, he would protect them. Many assumed his tough talk
was bluster.
Extrajudicial killingsof environmental activists, journalists, labour leaders and
others who confront the country's vested interestshave long been a fact of life in
the Philippines. Under Mr Duterte, people suspected of involvement in the drug
trade have now come under fire. In less than three months some 3,000 people have
been killed by police and unknown assailants, without any semblance of due
process (see article). His chief of police claims the supply of drugs on the streets
has fallen by 90% thanks to the crackdown. The campaign, and Mr Duterte, are very
popular.
(7) Human Rights and Extra Judicial Killings: The Duterte Approach by Jes B. Tirol,
Sept. 18, 2016
Proem
Last Sunday I wrote that the awareness of President Duterte regarding the overall
situation in the Philippines today is of the fifth level of awareness or Avatar. It
comes from the insight or instinct and not primarily from information.
The fifth level of awareness always competes with the fourth level of awareness
which comes from logical and scientific analysis of data or Skepticism. The fourth
level of awareness is the general level in school, government, society, and other
aspects.
Every now and then an Avatar will come along. He then shows his awareness and
very few from the general public can understand or follow the unusual logic.
Gravity as Analogy
Before the time of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) nobody understood why objects
will fall and why heavenly bodies have orbits. Newton introduced his concept of
gravity. He said that it is the property of masses to attract each other and the force
of attraction is directly proportional to the masses of the objects and inversely
proportional to the distance between them. Newton said that gravity is a force of
attraction.
When his formulas were applied to the movements of objects and heavenly bodies it
gave accurate results. The accuracy of the results made many scientists overlook
the fact that when the logic is carried further, the results will be inconsistent.
However, some scientists were still uncomfortable because if all objects in the
universe attract each other the result will be immobility. It is like the spokes in the

wheel of a bicycle. Since the heavenly bodies are still moving, then there must be
another explanation.
Theory of Relativity
After many years of scientific applications many scientists discovered that the Laws
of Newton have limitations. In year 1906, Albert Einstein produced his Special
Theory of Relativity and in 1916 his General Theory of Relativity.
In these theories the gravity is not taken as a force of attraction but a curvature of
Time and Space. Time does not exist but it is combined with space to become the
fourth dimension known as Time and Space or Space-Time.
When a body or mass travels, it causes the Space-Time to curve that is perceived in
the Newtonian Law as attraction or falling. The theories of Einstein are beyond
normal human experience but the results are applicable to the very big universe or
the subatomic particles. In other words, Einstein was an Avatar.
One hundred years have passed and the Theory of Relativity is not generally taught
and studied in school. However, our college physics is mainly taught using the
theories of Newton. Majority of the people still think that gravity is a force of
attraction and not a curvature of Space-Time.
Human Rights and EJK
Before the creation of the United States Constitution, the concept of Human Rights
and EJK (Extra Judicial Killing) were only philosophical concepts. In fact it is the
United States of America that started the concept of making the written
Constitution as the fundamental and highest law of the country. In other countries
the King was higher than the Constitution. In Muslim countries the Holy Koran is
higher than the Constitution.
When the United States became powerful and influential, as it is today, many of its
political practices were prescribed or forced upon others.
Since the Philippines copied its political, judicial, educational, and many other
systems from the United States of America majority of our educated people
presume that we also follow the Human Rights and EJK concepts of the Americans.
We neglect the fact that we have a different history, culture, and traditions from the
Americans.
US Concept
In the USA concept, each individual have rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
These stated rights were reaction to their experience when they were yet colonies
of England. When any agent of the law or government will violate these rights, it is
then called human rights violation.

According to the US Constitution, no person shall be deprived of life, property, or


liberty without due process of law. If a person is killed without due process, then it
is extra judicial killing, except during a war.
Newtonian Analogy
According to the Americans, each individual whether law abiding or not, have right.
No agent of the law or government can violate this right. However, if it is a criminal
who will violate the right of the law abiding individual or the police, it is only a crime
statistic and not Human Rights violation.
This concept is comparable to the Laws of Newton. It is the principle in the
American practice but very questionable when applied to other situations.
PDU30s Concept
The concept of Pres. Duterte has a different twist in application that will render the
American practice inapplicable or needs new definitions. I will compare it to the
Theory of Relativity when referring to gravity because the variables are changed.
In the American concept that some Filipinos want to follow is to make the Police or
law enforcers act as a referee to the law abiding citizens and the criminals. The
police will act only when a crime is committed, about to be committed, or was
committed.
President Duterte puts the police and law enforcers between the law abiding
citizens and criminals, drug pushers, and other violators.
PDU30 then declared war on the drug lords, drug pushers, and all those victimizing
the citizens to become drug users. He then urged everyone to surrender, including
the drug users.
In the Duterte procedure the criminals are identified from the victims. The criminals
are then pursued for doing a continuing crime. It is debatable whether it will be a
Human Rights violation because the drug users and pushers are known.
However, judging upon the reaction of the people, the concept of putting the police
between the criminals and the innocent people is understood by the people.
The fight against the criminals is done according to the rules allowed by law. The
recent statistics indicate that 1,105 where killed during the police buy-bust
operations for fighting against the police, 16,891 arrested, and 712,484
surrendered. (Note: 8 police are killed.)
In the American concept of extra judicial killing, the police will be pursuing the
criminals. In the PDU30 concept, the citizens are at the back protected by the
police who are facing the criminals in a fight. It is a slight alteration in the logic but
the people accepts that it is not extra judicial killing.

(8) Comparing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and US by Vicente L. Rafael,


July 17, 2016
For the poor, there is no due process. Suspicion or accusation is warrant enough to
kill
them.
These are grim days for human rights around the world. In the United States and its
former colony, the Philippines, extrajudicial killings long practiced but often swept
aside have recently become the norm.
Is it possible to think comparatively, which is to say critically, about the connection
between these two regimes of extra-judicial killings thousands of miles away: the
police execution of black citizens and other peoples of color in the US on the one
hand and the Presidentially-mandated, police and vigilante incited and performed
executions of purported drug dealers and drug addicts in the Philippines on the
other?
In the US, the targeting of black bodies has a very long history. It is rooted in
centuries of racialized slavery, segregation and settler colonialism productive of and
sustained by an ideology of white supremacy. The history of these practices and
ideology continue to be deeply entrenched and institutionalized in militarized
modes of policing which have emerged since the 1970s in response to urban
insurgencies in US cities. Indeed, the history of policing in America has its roots in
slave patrols bands of armed white men employed by slave holders to keep blacks
in check and search for runaways as well as a long history of local codes designed
to criminalize the mere presence of Native American and immigrants of color in
urban areas. The system of discriminatory policing is also sustained by a vast
prison-industrial complex. The criminal justice system in the US disproportionately
incarcerates and disenfranchises people of color, placing them under constant
surveillance even when they are released from prison.
The climate for extrajudicial killings has been further stoked by the ready
availability of assault rifles and other high-powered guns. Thanks to the lobbying
efforts of Second-Amendment fundamentalists such as the NRA and the gun
industry, the US now has a heavily armed citizenry. This volatile combination of
racism and guns has literally triggered the recurring murder of black people by
police forces and, more recently as in Dallas, the occasional armed response by a
lone black gunman.
Mostly poor
In the Philippine case, things are, of course, different.
The targets of extrajudicial killings are mostly poor. Those who are influential and
wealthy are publicly accused but held off from execution and subject to
investigation, such as the police generals named by President Duterte. For the poor,
however, there is no due process. Suspicion or accusation is warrant enough to kill

them. Their bodies are displayed, at times with signs, for everyone to see as both
warning to other dealers and as marks of the will of a sovereign power, as in any
public execution. Terrorizing ordinary citizens, the display of their corpses are ways
for the regime to claim for itself the power of their enemies and project this power
to the people.
What about the comparative responses to extrajudicial killings?
In the US, anti-racist movements such as Black Lives Matter arise to protest the
killings. They draw on a long history of civil rights activism that appeal to liberal
democracy even as they are critical of its discriminatory application. Media debates
are intense, and the conservative press aside, there is a real debate to recast issues
and put forth solutions both on the local and national level. And the US being an
imperial power, it is not uncommon that racist violence at home are often linked to
racist warfare abroad, and more generally the racializing inequities of global
capitalism. Hence, many have pointed out the irony of President Obama denouncing
both the police murders of blacks even as he presides over a kill-list of suspected
terrorists in the Middle East targeted for drone assassination. The use of a robot to
kill the alleged assassin of Dallas cops during a Black Lives Matter demonstration
shows how the counter-terrorist weaponry used abroad has come home to roost in
the US cities.
In the Philippines, social movements have yet to emerge questioning extrajudicial
killings.
While some Senators and human rights advocates raise objections, no one wants to
be seen as coddling or protecting those who are killed. The communist Left and its
allies have so far remained circumspect over these killings in an attempt to solidify
their coalition with Duterte. Some of the armed groups have even acted as
vigilantes to carry out killings in the provinces. They have forfeited their rights, and
due process would simply be a waste of time and resources, according to this logic,
since courts are corrupt and drug dealers, armed with lots of cash, will simply bribe
their way out of prosecution.

Unlike the US, victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines start out as being
racially or ethnically identical with their perpetrators. But being associated with
illegal drugs renders them into a different race altogether: one deserving neither
human recognition nor humane treatment. They become in the eyes of the
President, the police and vigilantes, pieces of garbage polluting society and so
needing to be cleared away. Their corpses then become surfaces which serve as
living signs of an ominous power capable of overcoming the power of death itself.
In both the US and Philippines cases, there is thus a process of racialization that
takes place. In the US, it entails the "blackening" or browning of bodies

tantamount to their criminalization and the necessary prelude for the police to
render summary judgment as to who shall live and who shall die. But the response
to police violence and white supremacy is loud and swift: wide-spread opposition
develops, calls are made for reform and the prosecution of guilty police, academic
analysis and policy debates ensue. Even if it seems like little changes, the political
and ethical stakes of opposing racialized extra-judicial killings are clear. The ready
availability of cell phones to record killings have further given citizens an important
tool for raising awareness and providing proof of these police murders.
In the Philippines, again, nothing of this sort has or is likely to happen.
Poor people, to begin with, have few rights that the middle class or the wealthy are
compelled to recognize. From the perspective of the latter, the poverty of the
former is not related to the wealth of those above; the causes of their destitution
are rarely traced to the privilege of the rich; and their tendency to turn to crime,
including the dealing and consumption of illegal drugs, are disconnected from any
understanding of their immiseration and the precariousness of their daily lives.
Historically excluded from the liberal elite democracy inherited from nationalist
ilustrados, the poor exist to be exploited, their votes bought, their labor used up,
their sufferings patronized and made into the material for soap operas and political
sloganeering. Small wonder then that they can be easily racialized: set aside as less
than human and casually killed, their deaths weighing less than a centavo on the
heads of those above. By subsuming the poor as a separate race, the class-based
violence of the state is also tinged with racist intent.
But what about the poor themselves? What is their understanding of extrajudicial
killings?
I'm not sure and Im not aware of much research on this topican absence which is
itself telling of the seriousness, or lack of it, with which their views are taken by the
political and cultural intelligentsia. But we can guess at some of the reasons why
they stand by while the killings occur. Perhaps some support the President and the
police, seeing drug dealers as non-humans with little or no rights. Perhaps they
have been victimized by dealers themselves, suffering their extortions and violence.
Indeed, some of those targeted have been corrupt cops known for taking bribes and
selling drugs. One can imagine how their execution might seem like just deserts to
those who knew them.
No doubt, the poor are also fearful of intervening directly. Bereft of resources, they
feel their disenfranchisement and vulnerability on the most practical level. Rather
than confront state authorities, many opt for a variety of traditional tactics to
negotiate with themfrom bribes to compliance, from collaboration to flight, though
very rarely do the poor resort to assassination and other violentand riskier--forms
of retaliation against the police. In short, they will do anything to deflect the full

force of those above while inflecting that force towards maximizing their chances
for survival.
In any case, the seeming passivity, maybe even consent, of the poor to extrajudicial
killings remains a real puzzle. The relative absence of collective class-based
response occurs amid the sharp and finely developed sense of class-consciousness
whereby the poor have a deep understanding of what it means to be poor.
This gap between action and consciousness is undoubtedly common in many places
and among other classes. But in the context of extrajudicial killings aimed
specifically at the poor, it stands in stark contrast to the strength of anti-racist
discourse and resistance in the US. Such a contrast deserves further study.
(9) The creeping normality of extrajudicial killings by Randy David, Inquirer, July 10,
2016
There is no question today about the rampant character of the drug menace in our
country. The public perception that the problem has far exceeded the capacity of
normal law enforcement has no doubt greatly contributed to the election of Rodrigo
Duterte to the presidency. The tough-talking former mayor of Davao City ran on the
solitary promise that he would not hesitate to kill in order to stop the drug problem
in three to six months.
The killings have already begun. In fact, they began soon after it became clear that
Mayor Duterte, long known as The Punisher, had won the presidency. As though
on cue, police agencies instantly took it upon themselves to raid the lairs of
suspected drug pushers, killing their targets on the spot or on the way to the police
precinct. The standard excuse is that the suspects were armed and had fired at
them first, or had tried to grab their firearms.
Hardly anyone believes this yarn, but its amazing how police officers could tell it
with a straight face. The mass media have reported at least 103 such killings under
the present regime, including those done vigilante-style. These reports have swiftly
sent a wave of panic across the countrys drug-infested communities, where
confessed drug users have been shown surrendering en masse, ostensibly begging
for rehabilitation. But if there is any public outcry over these evident summary
executions, it has been largely muted.
On the contrary, the publics thirst for decisive action could not be appeased by
these police operations that seemed to target only the low-ranking members of
drug syndicates. Indeed, many saw these deliberate killings as no more than a
convenient way to eliminate police assets who could potentially implicate their
police protectors. The public kept asking: Where are the big fish?
Before cynicism over the seriousness of the antidrug campaign could set in,
President Duterte himself took the unprecedented move of publicly naming five top

police generals, three of them still in active service, accusing them of being the
protectors of notorious drug lords. He also named two drug lords, both of them
serving time in prison, who, he said, continued to run their trade even while in
detention. He vowed to have them killed on sight if they dared even for a moment
to leave their prison cells.
The Presidents forceful actions and threatening pronouncements have certainly
amplified the resoluteness of his crusade against drugs, criminality, and corruption.
But, they have also justly alarmed human rights advocates, who insist that the due
process of law be followed in dealing with even the most hardened criminals and
corrupt public officials who have betrayed their oath of office.
These apprehensions, however, have found little or no resonance in the public
consciousness, judging from the absence of a collective uproar over these recent
killings. Ordinary citizens seem to have accepted the idea that they have nothing to
fear from the police or the vigilantes if they are not themselves into drugs or
engaged in criminal activity. This is all too ironic, for such implicit trust ultimately
rests on the presumption that our institutions are functional, and that the
authorities that have power over our lives are incorruptible and incapable of using
this power to kill innocent people.
It is this enabling mindset that I find truly alarming. It is just one step away from the
notion that it is all right to set aside our free institutions to solve our most pressing
problems. The Marcos dictatorship imposed a regime of intimidation on the Filipino
people by detaining and killing critics and dissenters.
For this, it needed martial law.
The Duterte administration, in contrast, seems to mobilize public fear, resentment,
and desperation in order to build a consensus around a project of national cleansing
and reconstruction. This project does not require martial law; it only needs
manipulated mass enthusiasm for it to succeed. How it is actually carried out
appears to be determined less by the logic of existing institutions than by the
trusted leaders instincts. Its most devoted army, as we have seen, is to be found,
not in the military camps, but in the social media.
Something that needs to be keenly watched in such developments is the easy resort
to brutal means whose redemptive promise effectively shields them from legal or
ethical scrutiny. Confronted by these daily killings, we need to constantly search
ourselves for explanations for our indifference and inability to be horrified by
repeated violations of fundamental constitutional rights. We must resist the
tendency to accept these killings as the new normal, the final solution to the
overwhelming crisis of crime and corruption that has long gripped our society.
For it is foolish to suppose that the problems demanding this kind of extraordinary
response will be confined to the drug menace or the corruption of government

officials. I think it is just a matter of time before anyone or anything that could be
described as a threat to the wellbeing of the nation becomes fair game.
Yet, after everything has been said and done, why am I left with the uneasy feeling
that what we are being served may be no more than spectaclesimages that stand
for realities that are too complex to engage our sustained attention? The killings do
have that mesmerizing and numbing effect.
There is an ominous passage in Guy Debords 1967 treatise The Society of the
Spectacle that seems to sum up that condition: The spectacle is the guardian of
sleep. We should be vigilant.

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