IN his weekly midnight talk to the nation on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, streamed live from Davao City by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation regarding the rumor about his stealth weekend trip to Singapore and updates on two war fronts: one, the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and, two, the war on drugs.
Mr. Duterte belied rumors that he had traveled to Singapore, and suggested that if he were to go anywhere, he could do it without making it a tightly wrapped secret. We may mention that earlier in the day, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the President was in “perpetual isolation” to assure the public amid concerns that the latter might have contracted the virus days after he met with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, among others, who tested positive for the second time.
On the Covid-19 vaccine, the President repeated what he has been saying in past weekly broadcasts: appreciation for the leaders of Russia and China — countries that are reportedly wrapping up their clinical trials for the drug — for assuring him they would take his purchase order (on credit, if possible) in the event the vaccine does become available.
The surprisingly short address (about 30 minutes in all), which included three and a half minutes of Roque’s report on the quarantine classifications for various areas in the country as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), can be viewed at YouTube.
Duterte approved the IATF-EID recommendation that reverts the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and some areas in Cebu to general community quarantine (GCQ). These areas were earlier placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from August 4 to 18 on the behest of medical frontliners.
The part about the war on drugs spans only about 4 1/2 minutes, starting at 21:21 minutes of the video, but might as well explain 4 1/2 years of what his critics claim as the government’s failure to contain the spread of illegal drugs in the country.
Transcribed, here is what the President said:
“Kayong mga Pilipino, every day, EVERY DAY, you see drug cases either busted, arrested, killed, at running into millions ang amount. Makita ninyo sa inyong telebisyon.
“Napakatorpe naman nitong human rights, e. ‘Pag hindi kayo ano… ang ano ninyo, magbilang lang ng patay? E p****g ina nyo. Maglipat kayo ng trabaho. ‘Wag sa human rights… Funeraria.
“Kung ‘yan naman ang trabaho ninyo, what about the social problem? A serious and grave problem of drug addiction in this country. What are you doing about it?
“At least meron kayong, you know, you have advocacy. It does not begin and end in the life of the criminal. Naloko ba kayo? It should be something like you’d also do it… all around the Philippines, warning the citizens, about being killed, about being slaughtered, if they do drugs. ‘Yan ang tama magawa ninyo.
“Then, if they are killed, despite or in spite of your educating them, then, you can always investigate and file cases.
“Pero itong mga durugista, and most of them are really not from the Philippines, I cannot say, hindi ko ma pinpoint, sometimes it comes from China, Malaysia, sometimes dito ginawa, minsan… ayan … basta ang akin a shabu is a shabu is a shabu. I do not… hindi ako nag ano kung saan galing. It’s a crime in Malaysia, lalo na sa China… it’s a death penalty. Malaysia it’s a death penalty. Indonesia metes out a death penalty.
“Tayo lang ang Pilipinas maarte. So, kung ano lang talaga… come to think of it … if it is really effective … if prayers do … if the shouting inside the church pulpit… kung nakakatulong bakit po hanggang ngayon nagbabaha ng droga, at ano ang gawain natin doon sa namatay … ‘yong mga bata na tinusok ng kahoy galing puwet hanggang bunganga… ‘yan ang ano… mas gusto ninyo yan kaysa mga itong animal na ito. Tapos sabi mo pinapatay ko.
“Sinabi ko, if you destroy my country, I will kill you. I never said if you destroy my country, I will order the military or the police to kill you. You must be…‘yan…. don’t impose a lie… Sabi ko, I will kill you, if you destroy my country. And I will really kill you. Malas mo lang kung ma-timingan.
“Kung ganyan ako… sabihin ko sa mga pulis, umalis kayo d’yan, hayaan mo ako dito sa p*********g ‘to. I will…I will… I will do it. Have I done it? How many times? A secret… Bakit ko sabihin ko sa inyo ‘yan.”
Let’s pause for a minute here and try to understand what was said.
He said drugs could be coming from China or Malaysia. Also, they could be produced locally. He also said he would kill, as indeed he said he had killed, those who would destroy his country. The problem is that those that got killed are not the smugglers from China or Malaysia, not even the big-time local producers, but mostly the street peddlers, users and suspects at the base of the crime pyramid. We do not even mention that those fell as collateral damage, the price for which no amount of riches in the whole world can pay.
The disconnect between the problem and the solution he chose to address could explain why hanggang ngayon bumabaha pa rin ang droga.