April 22, 2024

Imagine walking along the halls of Mabini Building, CBEAM Building, and Jose Rizal Buildings,   and finding nothing but dead bodies: 6,000 corpses splattered with blood from gunshots — majority of which have signs ‘Wag tularan, pusher ako’. Imagine them scattered all along the hallways, in the classrooms, and even in the comfort rooms–men and women, caught unaware, adults, teens, even children. Not immediately identifiable, for they are placed in trash bags, or wrapped with packaging tape.

Sadly, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has killed enough Filipinos – more people than the entire DLSL college population. To be exact, 5,882 people were killed from June 30 to Dec 13. Among these, 2,041 were from police operations, while the rest were killed by unknown gunmen. The death toll continues to rise everyday that the Philippines has developed worldwide infamy among the media and human rights groups. However, it is difficult to determine which is more scary: this, or the fact that most of the rest of us are seemingly not disturbed by it anymore.

Today is a dangerous time to be a Filipino. The country is being led by a President who promotes a culture of killing and impunity–a President who encourages his people, not just the police, to kill drug pushers on sight, and has vowed to protect those who carry them out. More than this, we have a President who has chosen to consider innocent people killed alongside as ‘collateral damage’ and not as victims of murder who deserve justice.

Today is a dangerous time to be a Filipino. The killings are not particular of time or place — while walking by the streets, while sleeping in their homes, while doing their daily routines. The families of the victims mourn. Others cling blindly in support for the President’s campaign, or are indifferent, as if the killings have always been a part of everyday life.

Today is a dangerous time to be a Filipino. In only six months, the killings have almost doubled the casualties of the 14-year Martial Law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. When Marcos was buried with complete military honors in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, thousands expressed their disapproval in successive rallies and noise barrages, college students being a large portion of the opposition, especially in the November 30 Siklab Bayani protest. The Lipa Lasallian student body stood proudly, sadly however, represented by only two out of some five thousand college students. Although several others voiced out their opinions online, there is a clear and troubling indifference among the general DLSL population.

It can be remembered that the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ended Marcos’ reign was sparked by the assassination of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Before him, journalists, artists, priests, nuns, students, and many other civilians and professionals were either imprisoned, tortured or killed simply for voicing contempt for the administration. But comparing the victims of martial law to those of the present war on drugs, the latter largely coming from the lower bracket of society: drug addicts, drug pushers, and the poor, and contrasting the outrage that it generates from the people, we can ask: Is justice only for those who hold power, wealth and influence? Or has the current administration really brainwashed the people on the real meaning of justice and humanity, that they fail to see the flawed system staring right at them?

Today is a dangerous time to be a Filipino. The youth, who are quintessentially called the ‘hope of the nation’ tend to be ‘too busy’ with their own lives–whether it be their academics, their social lives, relationships, and the trivialities of popular media–to dedicate time to to save the nation and to have their voices heard. There may be youth groups across the nation who are actively involving themselves and have staged protests and campaigns, but they comprise only a small percentage of their respective schools and institutions. In DLSL, no student organization has expressed visible opposition to the extra judicial killings in the ongoing drug war. Not even the school administration has released any official statement in response to the issue, furthering a culture of indifference that makes it more dangerous to be a Filipino.

If we are to be ‘millennial’ millennials, focusing only on ourselves and caring on the things that directly affect us, will you wait for this drug war to directly affect you–make your family a victim–before you make a move?

With all the deaths and burials, 2016 has been cruel enough. Let us make 2017 better while we still have the freedom to.

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