The Sixth Commandment

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

"Thou shall not kill." The Sixth Commandment given by God to His people. This is the new campaign slogan of the Catholic Church, in the wake of numerous extrajudicial killings that have flourished under the Duterte administration.

A mass will occur at the same time President Duterte gives his very first State of the Nation Address today. The old slogan of "Thou shall not steal" seems to have lost steam, with the focus on the killings. Former President Arroyo's release from detention in light of the Supreme Court's decision to drop the case against her for lack of strong evidence, or so they say, seems to have punctuated the slogan's demise.

The purpose of the Church's campaign is to pray for the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings. As the body count from legitimate police operations against those involved in the illegal drugs trade rises, so do the numbers of those who have been summarily executed. These are the bodies found all over the country, with cardboard messages stating they are this and that kind of criminal and therefore should not be emulated.

In Pasay City alone this Saturday, four bodies with the now familiar cardboard messages were discovered. They have been convicted, sentenced, and executed by those with no authority to do so. They were robbed of the right to due process. I wouldn't be surprised if the cardboard business is booming along with the sale of permanent markers. The "death squads," for lack of anything else to call them, are also making a killing, literally and figuratively.

But we all know very well what the President thinks of the Church. He labeled it as a hypocritical institution. With his view that shabu addicts are beyond redemption, then you have a formula for a killing spree.

I doubt if the campaign of the Church to raise awareness to the sins of disobeying the Sixth Commandment will have an effect at all on the President.

The absence of outrage from the public on the spate of summary executions also emboldens these murders to continue. A tacit approval, if you will.

But this is a slippery slope, or at least it may be getting there. While it seems to have traction today, will the public wait until people with nothing to do with any sort of crime end up dead, with cardboard messages on their necks, killed for personal, or even trivial reasons?

A hate crime, a lover's quarrel turned deadly, business rivalry taken to the extreme, politics or even road rage? Does the presence of a cardboard message justify the killing?

The police claim they do not condone such a practice. But while they have all the information on persons with any kind of dealings in illegal drugs, which is why they are able to arrest or kill them when they fight back or go for their guns, they are clueless as to who are leaving the bodies everywhere.

Due process seems to have gone out the window. It is only for the wealthy and influential like Peter Lim, unless they fight back and be killed in a legitimate operation like Meco Tan.

They are calling for the Duterte administration to learn from the similar drug wars waged by other countries like Thailand, Mexico, and Colombia. Initially, the results were promising with a high body count of criminals. But eventually, a victory could not really be claimed, proven by the existing presence of illegal drugs in those countries.

An all-out war apparently does not work. It is shock and awe at the onset, but in the end, the drugs are still around, even creating more problems than they started with.

We need to learn from the mistakes of other countries, not follow them to the same result, even if the numbers "look good" or "are not enough."

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