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They call EJKs an achievement

MANILA

Only someone with a mental condition would call the killings of thousands of people an achievement.

And yet, that is one of the “achievements” claimed by the Duterte administration here in their year-end report. And if we Filipinos just keep quiet and accept that as a fact, then there’s something wrong with us, too.

Even before the Duterte administration took office in July 2016, the killings had already started. The new leader came up with a mantra, “I will kill you,” which has become his signature expression. And, with thousands dead, this gruesome activity has spawned a new term in the popular lexicon: EJK for “extrajudicial killing.”

A world used to violence in this age of terrorism still cringed at the news of the daily killings, either by police or vigilantes, of suspected drug “personalities.” Despite the same things having already happened in other countries, like Colombia and Thailand, the world at large still was shocked by the brutality and cold-bloodedness of the EJKs in the Philippines.

Several countries expressed sadness and outrage over the EJKs here. What they got in return were curses and a defiant attitude of “It’s none of your damn business.”

The current palace spokesperson proudly declares the EJKs a success. What irony. This is a lawyer who used to represent people whose human rights had been violated. Now he justifies human rights violations.

Cabinet members and other senior officials are mum about EJKs. By their silence and continued stay in the service of this administration, they ratify their tolerance of the EJKs. One of them even said EJK casualties are just “collateral damage” and a “necessary evil.”

That kind of callous attitude pervades this administration. Forget about having minds, but don’t these people have hearts? To have intelligent people (at least some of them) to not be bothered by EJKs is a tragedy.

But the most tragic is that we Filipinos, or at least many of us, have tolerated the EJKs. Isn’t it a shame that people in other countries have expressed outrage over summary killings? And yet we, because they remain unabated, condone EJKs.

Isn’t our silence equivalent to tolerance? My own position is that those who are silent are complicit in the EJKs. If you don’t protest EJKs, then you support, or at least condone, them.

This is a crying shame, that we who profess to be freedom-loving and supporters of all people’s rights have not raised any kind of assertive howl over EJKs.

Just briefly, I will repeat here why EJKs must be condemned. It’s because they’re nothing but murder, plain and simple. If a person commits a crime, he has to be taken to court to be tried. Like any other citizen, he or she deserves due process. That is all, due process.

Defenders of EJKs distort the debate. They contend that rights advocates defend suspected criminals. All that true rights advocates want is to give any suspect due process. If they’re proven guilty in the courts, then they must pay for their crime. But only after being given due process.

EJKs are not an achievement, they’re a shame, a bloody mark on us as a supposedly freedom-loving people who respect every person’s rights.

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