EDITORIAL - We cannot afford to be distracted

The Freeman

Some people keeping a running tally of the number of people killed in the government's relentless war against illegal drugs are getting upset by the runaway figures. It might help stabilize their anxiety if they start keeping a similar tally of the number of people killed, raped, injured, robbed, or otherwise physically and emotionally violated by each addict, pusher, coddler or other drug personality who has been killed, arrested, surrendered or otherwise neutralized in this war.

Without meaning to question the sensibilities of people, there is a need to remind ourselves that we now live in truly disturbing times and that the only way to keep our sanity intact is to accept the fact that reality can have many faces and that it does not serve our interest to be looking at only one face and completely disregard others.

It is comforting to repair to what used to be, to invoke conventions that hold normal civilized societies together. But there is no more used to be. Illegal drugs are unlike common threats that can be confronted by conventional means. Like AIDS that wreaks havoc on the immune system and renders the victim vulnerable to other diseases, illegal drugs gnaw away at the conventions that hold society together, leaving it open to a complete breakdown of law and order.

Thus, as with AIDS, illegal drugs must be confronted with new and more aggressive methods, methods that, when viewed from within the box, tend to be scary and risky in their unorthodoxy. But if the method induces unease, at least trust the intent. The preoccupation must be on the disease, not the bitterness of the pill. A line from the movie "As Good As It Gets" best describes what it is to do otherwise: "I am drowning here, and there you are describing the water."

It is easy to make a fuss about President Duterte's unconventional methods until we realize no president has truly ever taken the drug problem as seriously as it is being taken now. Reinvigorated at Edsa, this nation has had the opportunity to wipe out the scourge with a succession of five presidents before Duterte. Yet not one of them has really seized the bull by the horns.

Until Duterte came, we never realized we were this close to the shit hitting the fan. Businessmen, government officials, judges, policemen. The entire gamut of Philippine society has been infected. we are truly drowning and still some people prefer to describe the water. The pile of bodies will never be high enough to hide the horror that lay in their wake before they died.

God, fate, plain luck, whatever. There must be a reason why Duterte is there. And with him there comes the opportunity, perhaps our only opportunity to save our drowning country. There are many victims in this tragedy. A nursing student shot for her cellphone is one. A three-year-old girl raped by a neighbor is another. If you feel fear even in your own home, you are a victim as well. The tally sheet is not the story. What we have swept under the rug for so long is.

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