Akbayan welcomes the CBCP pastoral letter against extra judicial killings. This is a necessary development that should help remind the public that killing is not a solution to the country's problems. Complimented by an initiative of several priests to concelebrate a mass in support of families of victims of extra-judicial killings, this stance reinvigorate our efforts to temper the madness and violence driving the government’s campaign against drugs.
Akbayan, in July of 2016 has said, in consonance with the church’s position, that this campaign is nothing more than a war on the poor. This is not a war on drugs – a war connotes that the opponent has the organized ability to engage the government in combat. But no, there are only 7,000 poor people lying dead on the streets. That is not a war – that is a massacre.
And yet big time suspects like Peter Lim score a meeting with the President, and is able to fly out of the country undetected. Corrupt cops reported to have used the drug campaign as a pretext to extort money from businessmen are penalized with push-ups. An entire ethnic minority – Moros, are insulted with deployment of erring cops to Mindanao. Clearly, this so called “war on drugs” divides Filipinos into two caps – those who can curry favour with justice, and those who cannot.
The mass concelebrated in Caloocan, where extra judicial killings have far outpaced the capacity of media to report them, should encourage us to seriously reflect on the cost we are willing to accept for a false sense of security.
The CBCP's stance on EJKs should help the public reclaim a democratic space to reflect on the human and long-term cost of this violence. With the church speaking out and exercising its moral suasion, may we inspire communities and families to speak out, so the public can gain an insight into the very real stories behind the numbers.
Knowing the victims is the first step towards justice, and healing. We call on the CBCP to also extend support to victims of EJKs and the witnesses who may be willing to step forward to bring perpetrators to justice. Akbayan intends to support the church in this particular effort all the way.
Amid continued reports of killings, the falling out of the peace talks, and the recently “suspended” all-out war against illegal drugs which left around 7,000 Filipinos dead, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin reminded the government that a “reign of peace” in the country remains far from reach.
“Lest we confuse ‘reign of peace’ with ‘reign of death,’ we cannot turn a blind eye on the culture of violence that still prevails,” the opposition lawmaker said.
Instead, the Akbayan solon urged the Duterte administration to seriously address the pressing issues of the Filipino people through effective humanitarian means.
“Violence begets violence. Let’s continue the talks in the spirit of achieving just and lasting peace,” Villarin remarked.
Akbayan party-list today decried President Duterte's statement giving military forces the go signal to bomb escaping terrorists along with hostages, if any, saying this reveals a dangerous mindset that cheapens life and devalues human beings.
"This is the same mindset behind the official complacence over the thousands of extra judicial killings," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros. "Even though none can say for certain if those killed in this campaign are guilty or not."
"Duterte has to understand that nobody has to die just so criminal elements can be destroyed," added Cabreros. "As a lawyer he should focus on the tedious, unsexy task of reforming the justice system he is a part of instead."
"This is the only way by which he can convince the country that he actually has a vision for governance," explained Cabreros. "and that his core competency is not just limited to kill, kil, kill."
"Because when the country runs out of drug suspects, and terrorists, who will Duterte go after?"
"Violence is no way to run a country," added Cabreros. "Progress should never be an us-versus-them equation," added Cabreros, "the formula for a better future is all of us working together, taking care of each other, even those who have fallen behind and have lost their way."
"Filipinos can do better than the bloodlust being promoted by this administration. We deserve better than this culture of death."
Akbayan today joins members of the Child Rights Network in lobbying legislators against the passage of HB02 which seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9, otherwise known as the Batang Bilanggo Bill (BBB).
Together with children advocates, Akbayan went room to room visiting legislators' offices to distribute holiday cards with messages coming from children themselves. These messages implored legislators not to support the BBB.
Akbayan supports CRN, the children and their families in their holiday wish for the legislature to turn its back on a patently cruel legislation that will stunt children's growth and would rather incarcerate rather than rehabilitate delinquents.
Given the current state of our justice system, jampacked jails with snail-paced courts will only mean minors who commit infractions that could otherwise be rehabilitated will instead be subjected to further risk and abuse when mixed with regular inmates.
This approach, which BBB will legalize will not solve the problem of criminality. It will only scratch the surface and allow the big time crooks and syndicates to get away with trafficking children.
BBB is only treating a symptom, rather than rooting out the poverty that lies behind the vulnerability of children to come into conflict with the law. BBB is prescribing a hammer to solve the problem of an ant, it is like pouring acid on a burn.
Akbayan calls on all legislators to turn their back on this absurd measure and focus on solving the problems that matter most: lifting poor families out of poverty so keep their children away from crimes and a life of misery.
At no time have been our human rights, democracy and Constitutional freedoms under attack more directly than today. We must collectively resist and call for the greater protection of our democratic rights as institutions designed to uphold them are instead at the forefront of eroding these very same principles enshrined in the highest law of the land.
Underlined by thousands of unresolved, extra-judicial murders, we see the resurgence of cruel, degrading, inhumane measures that cheapen life and glorify death as a solution to the complex problems that we face as a society.
The reinstatement of the death penalty, and this time through lethal injection, firing squad or hanging -- is a gigantic step backward unheard of in a democratic society. The coverage of heinous crimes to be committed is problematic because it has moved the line farther on what infractions are defined as heinous.
The bill reinstating the death penalty is a heartless, bloodthirsty measure.
The situation becomes even more dire when this is combined with a proposed bill that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 9. Instead of rehabilitation, legislators are giving up on our children and would rather send them to jail, oblivious to the fact that children who lose their way are often victims themselves of other criminals.
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