Friday, July 22, 2016

Why perfect crimes worry democracies

photo from

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of his goal to “really go after” illegal-drug traders and illegal drug-manufacturing lords has produced one seemingly desired effect: the illegal-drug companies were seen quickly initiating the elimination of their own armies consisting of small drug-pushing armed gangs. This quick decision by the companies is understandable, considering that these armies’ elements also function as smell tracks for the police dogs now let out to hunt for the sources of the illegal-drug menace. The Philippine National Police, especially now under anti-illegal drug advocate Bato de la Rosa, would be quick to admit that sometimes the companies would do this elimination process through their own assets within the PNP ranks.
     Now, this is not what President Duterte should allow to happen if he wants to gather whistleblowers who 1) could point to drug-manufacturing lords he doesn't know yet and 2) could testify against these lords in court. But that's if the President doesn't know these lords yet and has any intention of bringing any of these lords to court.
     Now, the reason why I call the ongoing spate of drug-pusher killings a “seemingly desired effect
” is because the government doesn’t seem interested in putting a stop to it or in investigating the legitimacy of all these so-called “encounters with police raiders”. You would wonder why the government is leaving the momentum to consume its own fire, so to speak. You would wonder if it already has a plan for the next scenario.
     My theory is that the reason why the government is allowing all these “fatal encounters” and “discovered bodies” to proliferate is probably because it's precisely those little armies that shoot down police, lawyers, and judges, and journalists mind you, who are not aligned with the lords. And so, by allowing the "companies" to eliminate their own armies—presumably as they try to cover their tracks—the government is simply paving the road for government authorities to later operate clear of these armies. Once the fire has consumed itself, as it were, government can then proceed to go after the lords it had already known the names and whereabouts of since the day of Adam and Eve, now absent their armies that they eliminated by themselves. It will be smooth-sailing thence.
     But here's the downside to that plan. Because of Duterte’s announcement of his desire to clean up the streets on Robert de Niro’s behalf, which seems to have been taken by the illegal-drug industry as a serious pronouncement, the industry didn't just end up eliminating its own armies qua links; it also initiated a program of eliminating anyone who could point to industry lords, and this includes anti-drug activists who (may) have information on them. Thus the assassination of that Ateneo de Manila teacher, who seems to have been involved (as per circulating information) in anti-drug campaigns as an anti-illegal drug activist. Now, if this goes on until all the hovels in the barangays grow silent, it's likely that we won't be left with any whistleblowers or witnesses around. Whistleblowers and witnesses with strong testimonies, whether from the bad side or from the good side, whom we could tap to testify against the apprehended lords the day they appear in court, could all be gone soon.
     So, here’s my question: I wonder if it is indeed better to let the illegal-drug industry keep at it, in this ongoing elimination of its own armies that the government is standing down against, than have those armies largely around for use as testifying witnesses. Because the latter option, given that the members of drug-trafficking gangs number in the thousands, does run the risk of leaving elements that could still (as they definitely would) start killing police, lawyers and judges and, I almost forgot, journalists who know much about or have an inkling on who's who in the trade. True, lawyers and judges (and journalists) won't like it that the Duterte government, as per its recurring pronouncement, won't be coursing the elimination of the lords through their much-avowed space of usual due process; they won’t like it for the traditional reasons why one shouldn’t like it. This, even if the Duterte government’s decision to go in this path of “letting the fire consume itself” is what would give those very lawyers, judges and journalists the safety of their lives, a possible fact that these lawyers, judges and journalists might find hard to accept or not have the capacity to appreciate.
     Now, in case you
re  starting to read me as a total advocate of the Duterte governments procedure, let me tell you that what I’m interested in right now is the availability of alternatives. Thus, now, my quick question: How would you do it? If you were appointed head of the Commission on Human Rights, with a mandate to protect the human rights of all, and concurrently head of the government's anti-drug trade agencies, tasked with the objective of the total-if-possible elimination of the illegal-drug trade, and concurrently a court judge, tasked with the legalist ethos to look at the evidence solely . . . how would you do it? For, evidently, the task and mandate of the President of the Republic cannot be any less than of those three. So, in case the President was you and not Rodrigo Duterte, what would you seek to achieve with your alternative? Which of these three departments concerns would you most likely put prior focus on and likely be more successful at? Which of these three departments would you be most likely to fail in?
     It's a comfort to think that we live in a democratic world with absolute respect for due process, which process—I'd like to believe—is largely aimed at protecting the innocent, the wrongfully accused. But, correct me if I’m wrong, there’s a reality that stares us in the face, a reality also telling us that the demos of democracies (which includes their lawyers and judges) have not been able to fix certain menaces through the available due process precisely because the menaces have had—from the git-go—a direct handle on it, in short have hijacked that process almost completely, rendering the crimes of drug trafficking perfect crimes. Its a sad truth there, but its a 3D truth, and the only available options are for one to either deny or accept its being true.
     Now, from the point of view recognizing the truth of the fact, it
s absolutely sad that due process in democracies has been failing at protecting the innocent victims of a certain menace and have been succeeding more at protecting the industry stakeholders of that same menace. We could choose to simply live with that paradox for a very long time and not do anything about the legalism, and certainly students of democracy and democratic jurisprudence would be debating on the born issues decades from now.
     But that doesn’t mean that, within this sadness, there’s nothing we can do except watch the police up their game. For, even now, that point of view can pray that a Senate investigationmeant to be launched anytime soon on the currently growing number of “assassinations” and “police raids resulting in deaths”does us all a great favor by focusing on this sad truth, to thereby look for a resolution that might harmonize the true objectives of the anti-illegal drug agencies and those of the authorities of democratic law. [S / -I]

No comments:

Post a Comment