It is undeniable that his perceived strong political will to implement the necessary changes in our country was among the factors that won votes for presumptive President Rodrigo R. Duterte. His campaign promise to get rid of, or at least control, criminality and illegal drugs in the first six months of his Administration convinced voters that he is the rightful leader of our country in the next six years.
Presumptive President Duterte is undoubtedly serious in fulfilling this campaign promise. He clearly stated his plan to have the death penalty be imposed particularly for drug lords and drug pushers. It is also clear that during the early months of the Duterte presidency, there will be an active debate about the necessity, appropriateness, and “morality” of the death penalty.
Whether we are for or against the re-imposition of the death penalty, I am certain that we will all agree that more than the kind of penalty for crimes as heinous as illegal drug trade, what we really need is the strict and impartial enforcement of our laws.
Our country and people obviously need the strong political will of presumptive President Duterte in shaking our law enforcement agencies for them perform as they should. Without strict and impartial enforcement of laws, the war against illegal drugs and other crimes cannot be won because criminals will have lots of opportunities to “buy” their immunity from arrest and thus avoid the death penalty.
We also need the strong resolve of presumptive President Duterte in strengthening our country’s prosecution and judicial systems. Again, without strong systems in these areas, the death penalty will not have its crime deterrent power.
When criminals, including drug lords and drug pushers, know that they have to deal with the forces of strict law enforcement, strong prosecution system, and impartial judicial system, we can look forward to a drastic reduction in crimes. The death penalty may not have to be imposed when this happens.
We also need to support the next Administration. Anti-illegal drug campaign in Davao City has been successful because of the concerted efforts of all government agencies from the barangay to the city government and the active participation of the citizens.
It will not be enough that the people elected presumptive President Duterte. If we really want change in our country, we should be all be willing to support him. Even with the strongest political will, no president will make a difference if the people are not willing to change and be active actors in the change process. The war against crime and illegal drugs is not for presumptive Duterte alone, it is a war for all of us.