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Rule of law

By: Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

The deaths of teenagers Kian Loyd Delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman were totally senseless, to say the least.

This column joins all groups and individuals in condemning the killings. The deaths of Delos Santos and Arnaiz were the result of what the Philippine National Police claimed to be legitimate operations – the former during an anti-illegal drug operation and the latter for a holdup incident.

Given what we now know about these teenagers, it is simply hard to believe that the police had no other recourse but to shoot, and eventually kill, them. They were literally “boys” who were obviously “no match” to the men in uniform.

With what we now know from the family and friends of these teenagers, particularly of Delos Santos and Arnaiz, the police claim of retaliation to the boys’ armed actions is simply hard to believe as they were “out of character.”

Given the fact that De Guzman was last seen alive with Arnaiz and was allegedly involved as well in the holdup incident, one can surmise that he was a salvaging victim as his body was found last week in Nueva Ecija.

The only “good” thing about the deaths of these teenagers is the realization of the Duterte Administration about the need to review or reexamine its war on drugs.
The bold assurance of President Duterte about being on the side of the law enforcers in the war against illegal drugs was necessary because such “backing” is an weapon for policemen in going against well-oiled drug organizations and armed drug personalities.

We still would like to believe that President Duterte’s order was only for policemen to shoot and kill criminals when the former’s lives are at risk. Even if there were claims that many deaths were actually outside the parameters of the President’s order, many of us chose not to believe there were state-sanctioned killings in our country.

Having state-sanctioned killings is one thing. Having rouge and criminal policemen is another.

The move of the Duterte Administration to review the implementation of its war on drugs program is the least it can do, particularly in the light of the killings of Delos Santos, Arnaiz and De Guzman.

One thing must be prevail – the rule of law. Policemen should not take the President’s backing as applicable to all of their actions, including those that are illegal and criminal.

Clearly, the real victory of the Duterte Administration’s war on drugs rests on its ability to show that such war is being waged within the parameters of the rule of law and that it is willing to subject its erring soldiers to such rule.