Dutertes Admission of Failure Proves Extrajudicial Killings Not the Answer

Oct. 23, 2006

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY If theres one thing the appearance of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the City Council last week proved, it is that the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and addicts, something that this city has seen for quite a long time now, cannot solve the drug problem, according to human-rights advocates.

In his testimony, Duterte expressed exasperation over the continued proliferation of illegal drugs in the city, which he said are creating zombies out of users.

“We have killed, exterminated a lot of guys, the bad guys connected with that, Duterte told the councilors, from whom he asked for more money to fight crime. But the lure of money and the eroding effects of bribery make it impossible to eliminate the problem.”

Human-rights activists have long denounced the series of summary executions here that victimize mostly poor people, several of them children.

This only shows that the most effective what to solve the drug problem is to go after the leaders of drug syndicates, said Kelly Delgado, secretary-general for Southern Mindanao of Karapatan, the human-rights group. How many victims of extrajudicial killings here are suspected of involvement in drugs? There are already many of them. But most of them are small people. The druglords remain at large, unharmed.

The war on drugs, Delgado said, should target the brains of the syndicates, the drugloads. What has been happening is that only the ordinary, small pushers are being punished and eliminated.

Delgado said the best way is for drug dealers to face the courts. The Reverend Ariel Baladjay, a pastor at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines in Davao, shared Delgados view.

We can never solve the problem as long as there are influential people involved in drug syndicates, Baladjay told davaotoday.com.

There are laws and our call is a serious implementation of these laws, not summary executions, Baladjay said. The government, he added, should find a way to deal with the problem without violating due process.

Lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate said Duterte should extert the full force of the law on drug dealers. After all, the country has one of the harshest drugs law, not only in Asia. So throw them the book,” he said.

He pointed out that the drug problem is complex and that a simple killing of suspects wont solve it.

The challenge now is how to enforce this law forcefully. Pinning down these drug lords requires a lot of cooperation and needs sincere law enforcers, Zarate said. We should clean up the ranks of drug enforces, especially the military and the police. (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)

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