EJK? Why not KJE?
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - February 12, 2020 - 12:00am

Extrajudicial killings or EJK has become almost a byword to describe the aggressive war on illegal drugs that President Rodrigo Duterte has waged in the Philippines. Even other countries have become aware of the term. That EJK has gone global is the result of the media's careless, reckless, and irresponsible use of the term without so much as a quiver of conscientious effort to qualify and contextualize the term.

So successful is media's relentless disregard for putting things in perspective that the picture everyone conjures at each mention of EJK is of Philippine policemen just wantonly picking up people from the streets and executing them. But nothing is farther from the truth. The heavy toll in Duterte's drug war comes not from state-sponsored mass murder. It results from the victims tendency and willingness to not surrender peacefully.

I am from Cebu. In my province, there is a city where the illegal manufacture of guns has been a cottage industry for decades. The backyard gunsmiths in this city have become so skilled and proficient in making guns you almost cannot tell the difference between their copies and the originals made in the US, UK, Germany, Russia, and Israel.

But while we admire such great talent at copying, we cannot ignore the fact that, more often than not, these guns are ending up in the hands of criminals. If some time ago there was a clamor by even some priests to arm themselves, you can just imagine how exponentially greater is the desire and compelling need of criminals and other lawless elements to do the same.

If even law-abiding citizens deem it part of their security requirements, or giving vent to some lurking machismo, or just plain peace of mind, to have guns, then you can just imagine what it means to the rogues to have one. To say, therefore, that almost every household in the Philippines has a gun is an understatement. There are guns in many, many hands in the Philippines.

The trouble with guns is that you do not cook them for dinner. They can be for show or bragging rights, but when the need arises, you use them. That is why you bought them for. Do you really think a drug addict, a drug pusher or a drug lord has a rosary in his pocket to defend himself? When confronted by police, he will not pull out a rabbit's foot but a gun. And we all know what happens. But the media calls it EJK to get a byline.

But nobody tries to put things into context. It is too much of a bother to put in the fact that millions of guns are in the wrong hands, in the same manner that it sells better if you just say Duterte orders a shoot-to-kill instead of the full quote that said "kill if they put up a fight and your lives are in danger." A complementary term to EJK, "tokhang," actually means "toktok (knock)" and "hangyo (plead)." Media corrupted that too.

But the biggest corruption of this whole EJK thing is its being placed squarely on Duterte alone. Nobody, not the media, not the Church, has tried to correct this misrepresentation of facts. EJK actually started in the dying months of Noynoy Aquino's term. Aquino may have been a lame duck by then. But he was still president and could have nipped EJK in the bud. He did not. EJK? Why not KJE --Killing Journalism Extrajudicially.


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