Market falling as death toll mounts
It could just be coincidence, but when the number of deaths from the extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings in the war on drugs started to soar over legitimate police operations, the market also showed reciprocal weakness.
The war on drugs is part of President Duterte’s nationwide program against different forms of crimes. For the purpose, the PNP launched what it called “Double Barrel Project: Oplan Tokhang,” a plan first implemented in Davao City where the President served as mayor for several years. The project enabled Davao City to hold the title as number four safest city in the whole world.
“Tokhang” is a contraction of the Cebuano words “toktok” and “hangyo,” which means “to knock and plead.” In this case, police personnel knock on the doors of alleged drug users and/or pushers, and “make a polite” request to surrender or stop using drugs.
Since the program was launched last July 1, it immediately gained intensity, casting into the sidelines other government priority programs like curbing corruption, combating terrorism, and solving the urgent need for mass transportation and relief in the terrible traffic-prone urban areas, especially Metro Manila.
As of Oct. 26, according to a published report, a total of 32,909 police operations were conducted and a total 31,629 drug personalities were arrested. A total of 2,626,126 houses, accordingly, have been visited via Oplan Tokhang, too.
A total of 751,703 individuals were reported as well to have surrendered under Oplan Tokhang. About 54,702 of these were identified as alleged pushers. The rest, or the equivalent of 697,001, were said to be users.
Some published reports, too, put the total number of persons killed in the war on drugs between July 1 to Oct. 26 at 4,726. Some 1,725 or 36.5 percent among these suspected drug personalities were reported to have been killed during police operations. The balance of 3,001 or 63.50 percent were regarded as victims of extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.
The PNP reported, on the other hand, that there were only 2,766 unexplained killings while there were about 2,153 deaths under investigation. A total of 613 of these killings have been investigated and solved. The suspects in 396 of these cases have been identified and arrested. However, the suspects in 217 of these cases have been identified but remained at large.
It was also reported seven policemen and three AFP personnel had been killed in action. Wounded during the drug-related operations were 24 policemen and eight AFP personnel.
As I have stated in my previous market reviews, the market index remained on the upside since the beginning of the year. At last week’s close, it was even up 6.51 percent.
However, since the launching of Oplan Tokhang, the market has actually lost ground.
On the day of the launching of the program, the market noticeably closed higher from the previous day’s close by 34.1 points or 0.44 percent. On hindsight, the climb could be partly attributed to investors’ initial curiosity on the project.
In the next subsequent days, the market continued to climb higher. On July 27, in fact, the market closed at 8,100.48—the highest close for the year.
The market then steadily fell and closed lower since then.
Come to think of it, this was about the same time when the killings became more pronounced and the incidence on unexplained or vigilante-style killings became more preponderant.
As a result, the market continued to weaken.
The losses in the following weeks were not that big for anyone to immediately notice. Nonetheless, the losses can be compared to water lost from a leaking faucet—after almost four months of being left unfixed, the market had lost so much.
As of the close of trading last Friday, the market stood at 7,401.80, down 698.68 points or 8.63 percent. As any lower close could be a turning point, the market could possibly be standing on its breakdown point.
Bottom line spin
The proliferation of illegal drugs is, without a doubt, a national menace and a threat to the country’s future. But with the inability of the police to solve and arrest the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, they have given the impression the government may have actually adopted it as a state policy.
Aside from the blatant disregard for due process and violation of human rights, the practice of extrajudicial killings has a corrupting power that can lead to self-perdition—a fear that has caused the market to slowly weaken in the last four months.
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