Monday, August 8, 2016
Questions and Concerns Regarding Duterte's List of Drug Personalities
I laud the government's resolve in pursuing its anti-drug campaign, particularly in bringing to justice alleged narco-politicians, judges and bad cops who have contributed and/or benefited from the drug menace.
However, I would like to raise some questions and concerns on how this war is being waged, especially on the latest list made public by President Duterte.
Case build-ups and dangerous precedent
Is the list the result of judicious case build-ups? Is it backed up by sufficient evidence that can stand the scrutiny of our courts? Will the government file the appropriate charges?
Does this not set a dangerous precedent? Does this not violate due process? What prevents other public officials from making their own lists? What prevents them from including in the list political rivals, dissidents and activists? Whatever happened to the foundation of the judicial system and respect for individual liberties and rights, where one is presumed innocent until proven guilty?
EO on FOI to access information on "drug personalities"
Can the public, through the recently signed Executive Order on Freedom of Information, access the information which merited the inclusion of the said public officials in the list? The public deserves to know. The government's war on drugs must be information-driven. It must be free from the influence of political bias, vendetta and rivalry. Information must be judiciously vetted and not violative of the rule of law.
I believe democracy was never about the President's absolute power to determine innocence or guilt. The Executive cannot blacken the reputations of people and judge them at will. The responsibility to prosecute and judge falls upon our judicial system.
Sadly, the President's list, while it may be motivated by good intentions, preempts the court's judgment and tears at the very fabric of our democracy. Worse, it might only serve the interests of the very drug lords that this crackdown is directed at, such as the example of Mexico where, ironically, the main beneficiaries of a peace and order-centric war on drugs are criminal organizations.