A culture of death?

STRAWS IN THE WIND - Eladio C. Dioko - The Freeman

Five drug personalities in a barangay in Inabanga, Bohol were killed by police operatives last Sunday. As reported in The Freeman, the incident happened because the suspects resisted arrest and engaged the law enforcers in a shootout. A week before this, three other suspected drug dealers or users were also gunned down in an island near Getafe in the same province. On top of these there have been other drug-related "salvaging" in Manila and in Cebu, also by police authorities.

What's happening in our society? Is bloodshed now the order of the day? Are we now in the thick of what Saint John Paul II calls the "culture of death?" Is there now an ongoing conspiracy against human life? The victims must have been peddlers of death because drug kills. They must have fought back and tried to shoot at the law enforcers, still doubt remains whether the blood letting which has lately increased in frequency is justified, given our Christian upbringing and culture.

Our faith teaches us the sanctity of human life. Every person is a precious being because his creator is no less than God. And because God is the author of his life no one has the right to take it away except God himself. That's why emblazoned in the Ten Commandment is: Thou shall not kill!

Killing, however, in defense of oneself like killing in defense of one's country, is acceptable to a Christian believer. But other than this, the act becomes a serious transgression of God's will.

The slaughter going on among suspected drug dealers and users is acceptable only if, as claimed by the agents of the law, done in self-defense. But since that claim came only from the authorities themselves it can be construed as self-serving and therefore unreliable. And if the prospect of reward money is taken into account, how can suspicion be avoided?

One could see on TV the faces of the "official killers" light up in joy at the sight of paper bills coming their way. These were the new champions of society celebrating their triumph. These could be the people's triumph too if only the encounter was legitimate and the bloody outcome justifiable. In the absence of this, who can avoid a doubting Thomas?

Doubt cannot be avoided because in every happening involving people there are always different versions depending on the perspective of those involved. That's why the courts of law were created to do the balancing act on the testimonies of witnesses, if any. If there's none the circumstantial evidences and other factors are looked into before a decision is made.

However, in the series of killing happening right now, no balancing act has been undertaken simply because no one has the guts to complain. There is supposed to be a human rights office, but even this seems tentative in its reaction. Which simply means that as far as it's concerned all's well and life should go on as usual.

The same attitude seems to characterize the reaction of the general public. Yes, the trigger-happy law enforcers might have crossed the line between what is legal and not, between what is moral and otherwise. But the existing emergency social situation - rampant criminality involving persons and properties caused by uncontrolled peddling and use of prohibited drugs - calls for emergency measures. Survival of Philippine society is at stake. To do nothing is to court a national disaster.

Caution, however, is due in this respect. Control is necessary even for an emergency solution. Without control the practice could spread out like wildfire and we will be like a wild wild west where gunfight is the rule of the game. Then that would be the end of Philippine democracy.

Worse, we will lose our moral and legal anchorage which has been our bind as a nation. And when this happens we could become, God forbid, a failed state like Iraq or Libya.

[email protected].


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