Yesterday, July 25, 2016 was not only the first State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte. It was also the launch of the Huwag Kang Papatay (Thou shall not kill) campaign spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Manila with the support of the Koalisyong Katoliko Kristiyano and student activists from the University of the Philippines.
At 5pm yesterday, a mass was held at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Adamson University in memory of the lives lost to the Philippine War on Drugs. Despite the success of the mass, family members of the killings were a no-show due to a probable fear over their lives.
Simultaneously with the SONA, students from the University of the Philippines held a lie-in “Cardboard Justice” protest in front of the main office of the Commission on Human Rights. The Cardboard Justice movement comes from the fact that victims of the Philippine War on Drugs had cardboards stating their alleged involvement in drug crimes taped on their dead bodies that are usually wrapped with packaging tape (in some rare cases, the cardboards have the President’s name written on it – but that of course, does not automatically mean that the President himself ordered for that specific action to be done).
There are three possible angles to these extrajudicial killings. Some claim that it is the work of drug syndicates who are trying to undermine the President’s rule by doing the killings and then putting the blame on the police. Some say it is the other way around – with the police carrying out these killings and wiping the blame on drug syndicates. The third angle is that the police and the drug syndicates could be working together to cause these killings and in the process, they have created the illusion that only one of them is guilty of the killings (when following this angle, both of them would be guilty) – the third angle may explain why the “big bosses” of drug syndicates do not turn up dead but their subordinates do – and it could also explain why high officials of the Philippine National Police who may be responsible for the killings are not shamed but their subordinates are.
Nevertheless, one can only hope that we will find the true answers to why these killings are happening. In the meanwhile, we should all set our religious differences aside and join this newborn revolution that has unfolded to put our President accountable for his failure to safeguard the lives of innocent people in the midst of this drug war that he has called for.
Let us bring justice to Jefferson Bunuan and all the other innocent people who perished due to this Drug War.