LETTERS FROM DAVAO: Oh Iceland and Mexico how could you?

By Jun Ledesma

ICELAND authored a resolution to conduct a probe of (extra-judicial) killings related to the drug campaign waged by the Duterte Administration. This stemmed from the allegation that over 27,000 perished in the government’s war against drugs. I do not know where this figure came from but judging from what had been written and talks on the issue, I can only point at Rappler, an Omidyar-funded social media platform, Amnesty International, the politicized Human Rights Commission of the Philippines and the political opposition as the sources.

But let us look at Iceland. With a population of about 330,000 over 30 people die every year on account of drug addiction. Opioids, a prescription drug, is the main culprit but amphetamines have crept into this isolated country as well. For a country whose population is much lesser than a barangay (village) in the Philippines, the death toll to its populace is alarming.

Among the signatories in that United Nations resolution is Mexico, a veritable narco-state where murders on account of drug campaign, rivalry amongst drug cartel and murder of civilians caught in the mess are commonplace they have stopped taking notes of the daily tragedies. The United States which is the prime destination of Illegal drugs from the Mexican mafiosos had been up in arms the Trump administration is putting up a virtual “Berlin wall” in its borders with Mexico. Pres. Donald Trump himself has declared the drug menace as an emergency problem. In a statement, Trump warned of the horrible death toll from drug abuse. He also took note of the emergence of synthetic drugs which is similar to shabu that contributes to the toll.

Rappler, AI, CHR and of course the anti-Duterte cabal are one in extrapolating the figures they conjured to discredit the government all-out-war against drug syndicates. The government figures of those killed in its drug campaign are at 5,104. These include a couple of unfortunate victims who were caught in the crossfire.

The term “Extra-Judicial Killing” was first used in 2009 by a political rival of the Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to refer to victims killed in a government campaign against drug syndicates. But much of the estimated 300 victims were attributed to the drug lords own liquidation operations to eliminate their own drug pushers that could lead to their identity. Then CHR Chair, Leila de Lima, ordered a four-month probe of the EJK issue in Davao but despite the long search her probe team failed to prove anything. Not even when she was appointed later as Secretary of Justice under Pres. Benigno Aquino III. Later as Senator, she pursued her quest to pin Duterte to EJK this time charged him as behind the creation of the Davao Death Squad which, she said carried out the execution of the suspects in drugs.

Senator de Lima, this time found an ally in her probe – Sen. Antonio Trillanes. Trillanes had earlier sought out Duterte, who was gaining popularity in the Presidential surveys, to draft him as his running mate. He was politely turned down. As fate intervened, Duterte won overwhelmingly in the Presidential race.

In the intervening period, while Senators de Lima and Trillanes were conducting an investigation at the Upper Chamber, the House of Representative conducted its own probe. But a major twist happened. While investigating drug lords who were detained in the state penitentiary De Lima was dragged by the detainees for her alleged involvement in drug distribution network operated inside the state penitentiary while she was Secretary of DOJ. As if that was not enough her steamy dalliance with inmates and her driver surfaced. It was also later established that a drug distribution network was being operated inside the penitentiary during the watch of De Lima.

Before she was detained for her alleged involvement in drugs, Senators de Lima and Trillanes summoned as witness a self-confessed killer Edgar Matobato who claimed to be a member of DDS. In his testimony before the Senate investigation, he claimed to have personally killed over 200 victims and confessed to having buried 1,700 in a common grave in Lauds abandoned quarry. He lied through his teeth. His testimonies were flawed. The DDS he was talking about was a ghost force conceptualized by Police Gen. Dionisio Tan-gatue, Jr. sometime in 1984 at the height of the communist insurgency in Davao. Duterte just about graduated from a law school and was a new lawyer. Laud quarry is adjacent to many subdivisions and is just about 10 minutes drive from city hall. One can shoot an arrow into the air and if it falls into that quarry you can be certain with that many victims, as alleged by Matobato, De Lima and Trillanes, were buried there they could, for certain, exhume several skeletal remains.

Like the 27,000 victims that UNCHR Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, Maria Ressa of Rappler and the political anti-Duterte cabal conjured for their own respective agenda, the story of Matobato is farcical.

Callamard swallowed hook-line-and-sinker the statistics of Ma. Ressa and the pan-handling human rights non-government organizations, the political and left-leaning legal fronts are feeding her which she wantonly took as gospel truth. Callamard sneaked into the country not only as a rapporteur but as a quack doctor who proclaimed that shabu will not damage the mental health of a person taking it.

As for Maria Ressa, she gloats over her awards, rubbing elbows with American lawmakers and even actors for her bravery in raising the drug death statistics to 27,000. As a media person practicing her trade in the Philippines whose government she claimed is suppressing her freedom and her rights she deserves a golden trophy for her liberty to write as she pleases.

UNCHR or Callamard is irrelevant in the Philippines where its leader, the one who has a sustained campaign against drug and corruption, has an unprecedented satisfaction rating of 80%, an economy which catapulted to bbb+ or investment grade, which Oxford economics says is among the top 10 competitive countries in the world. If the political opposition is that popular as to offer a modicum of change in a country which frigid Iceland wants to be investigated for that nebulous 27,000 deaths, then think wisely why none of the senatorial bets assembled by the opposition won in the just concluded midterm elections.

As to Atty. Amal Clooney who offered to lawyer for Maria Ressa. You are most welcome. By the way, be prepared to defend her not because her rights are suppressed or curtailed for she has an overdose of it. Be ready to defend her as a tax dodger. We read not a few stories of respondents in tax evasion cases in the US who are either fined heavily or meted stiff prison terms or both. Am sure you have a way to wiggle Maria out of this bind.

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