A matter of conscience?
Last October 25, the Asean Law Association (Ala) held its commemorative session in Malacañang Palace. President Duterte was, of course, the special guest speaker.
After calling upon Ala to “become instrumental in addressing the regional scourge of poverty, transnational crimes and terrorism,” the President went extemporaneous to explain to his international audience his war against drugs.
Observing Mr. Duterte up close and personal, what was crystal clear to me was that he had a very clear idea of what he should do as president of the country.
In his words: “[D]uring the time of President Arroyo and during the time of President Aquino—not their fault—but there was this flooding of drugs in the country… Little did we realize that as early as four years ago during Aquino’s time, we had already become a narco-state.”
This was not the first time President Duterte described the country as a narco-state. He has spoken about this problem in the past.
Narco-state is a political term applied to states where policies are seen in collusion with the illegal drug trade.
Expounding a little further, the President told his audience that in some places ruled by what he described as narco-politicians, there were “no elections … [for] the longest time,” policemen were “killed,” “terrorism” reigned, “the freedom of the people to choose their own leaders was really absent,” and “[n]o democracy was working.” In his mind, he has to solve the problem—right here, right now—for the future of the country.
He bewailed innocent citizens were killed along the way because of drugs.
Although he denied ever ordering extrajudicial killings, he asked his critics: How about the “millions already dead and the millions who are hooked into drugs permanently? … How about the fathers, the sacrifices, the OFWs breaking their backs working, sending money only to realize after so many years working that their sons and daughters are not humans anymore?”
He said what aggravated this sad state of the country was that the police were “hesitant to enforce the law,” “afraid to apprehend” or did “not really care about [their] work” either because they were “bought,” “cowards,” or “left on their own” when sued in court by the criminals who invariably “have the money to finance a case” against them.
“That was the reality on the ground,” Mr. Duterte said.
“Now, if you are the President, how would you feel?” he asked.
“As President now, I carry the burden of governance and democracy. I am here as the President now and my main or fundamental duty is to protect the people and preserve the Republic of the Philippines. Nothing else would matter.”
Despite the scathing criticisms against him: “As President of the Republic of the Philippines, I have to protect my country at all cost … Do not ever, ever mess with my country. We will never understand each other.”
Addressing his critics, he said: “What I’m afraid of is the wrath of God. It’s always God that counts.
“[My] God does not allow youngsters to be raped and to be killed. My God does not allow shabu to thrive, to destroy people’s lives. My God says that I have to do something because God says that you were elected to really serve the people.
“And if I go down, I will go down. If I go up, I go up. I placed myself in this. Whether I go up or I go down, I will do the things which I have to do because it is my work” and “I serve the people of the Republic of the Philippines.”
So there you are, ladies and gentlemen, as far as the President is concerned, he is doing what his sacred oath as our duly elected President mandates him to do. It is not for the United Nations, the European Union and his other critics to judge him. It is not even for those who admire his brand of leadership and political will to pass on judgment, not even for the foreign lawyers in the audience who said the President is what our country needs in this day and time or who consider him as the country’s “jewel.”
For him, it is solely between him and his God. Nothing else matters.
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