The choice is for or against our coun­try

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - CAR­MEN N. PEDROSA

Ifirst learned about the dan­ger of nar­copol­i­tics in a con­ver­sa­tion with Re­tired Brig. Gen. Vic­tor Cor­pus, for­mer chief of the In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice of the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (ISAFP) some years ago. He was then al­ready warn­ing all and sundry that its dan­gers were grow­ing rapidly un­less it was tack­led se­ri­ously us­ing the pow­ers of the state.

Cor­pus knows what he speaks of be­cause he used to be on top of the drugs is­sue as chief of the ISAFP. At the time when I met him, the war on drugs was not a cen­tral is­sue in our pol­i­tics. We knew it in bits and pieces and there was no leader who would drag it out in the open as a plat­form of gov­ern­ment. He watched how it grew and should now feel vin­di­cated for his warn­ings.

He has re­cently come for­ward to say that he fully sup­ports Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs.

“Nung nasa ISAFP ako, inump­isa­han namin yung war on drugs. We cam­paigned against narco-pol­i­tics,” Cor­pus told re­porters in a weekly Kapi­han.

He said “We were not able to do what the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion has ac­com­plished so far in its cam­paign.”

“Hindi namin na­gawa yung gi­na­gawa ngayon ng pres­i­dente. Look what hap­pened, la­long luma­ganap ang prob­lema,” Cor­pus said.

He said he sup­ports the gov­ern­ment’s anti-il­le­gal drugs cam­paign “100 per­cent.”

“Kung hindi natin gagawin ito, we will end up worse than Colom­bia,” he added.

Cor­pus used the il­le­gal drug trade in Colom­bia which reached its peak be­tween 1993 and 1999 when it was the world’s largest pro­ducer of co­caine and one of the ma­jor ex­porters of heroin at that time.

To date, it has been a fight for num­bers. De­pend­ing on their po­si­tion on the war on drugs they choose what­ever num­bers suit their po­si­tion, more ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings if you were against Duterte and his war on drugs. This po­si­tion comes from lo­cal op­po­si­tion the Lib­er­als who want to re­turn to power even if they did not do any­thing about it. It grew and grew es­pe­cially in the last ad­min­is­tra­tion with­out our even notic­ing it. There were politi­cians who were even in ca­hoots with drug lords for their cam­paign funds.

Those who wish Duterte to suc­ceed like Cor­pus et al use fig­ures of what this gov­ern­ment has done. It is suc­ceed­ing be­cause it has dragged the prob­lem to the cen­ter of Duterte’s gov­ern­ment agenda. More and more Filipinos have be­come aware of the drug prob­lem. The fig­ures from this side are 1,377 drug sus­pects and 22,503 ar­rested in 23,549 po­lice op­er­a­tions. The fig­ures come from the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP).

There is another side to Duterte’s war on drugs and that is how it is be­ing used to put down his gov­ern­ment by the dis­cred­ited Lib­eral Party who did noth­ing about the prob­lem and yet now wants to re­turn to power.

They are aided by in­ter­na­tional groups mostly from the US and other West­ern coun­tries who are against Duterte for a dif­fer­ent rea­son. They don’t like his sep­a­ra­tion from the US and the West. He said it bluntly with­out any pre­ten­sion for niceties. I saw and heard him say it in China when he de­clared Philip­pines’ sep­a­ra­tion from US dom­i­na­tion. He was wildly ap­plauded by both Filipinos and non-Filipinos. But to soften the blow, he added that what he meant was to de­clare Philip­pine in­de­pen­dence and that his gov­ern­ment would now deal with other coun­tries when­ever it was in our in­ter­est.

I am com­mit­ted to the suc­cess of this gov­ern­ment. And so an over­whelm­ing num­ber of Filipinos.

If it is a ques­tion of tak­ing sides be­tween the univer­sal lan­guage on hu­man rights from for­mer colo­nial­ists and the suc­cess of Duterte’s gov­ern­ment in his war on drugs, I am on the side of what is good for our coun­try. The two are not ir­rec­on­cil­able. Ac­cu­sa­tions of ex­tra ju­di­cial killings must have a speci­ficity. Each case must be taken on its own and put un­der the mi­cro­scopic rules of law and ev­i­dence. Fig­ures com­ing from this side come in un­be­liev­able thou­sands but does not spec­ify how and what the fig­ures rep­re­sent.

Their fig­ures have lately ranged from to 12,000 and 14,000 that are then re­peated and passed on by sec­tions of in­ter­na­tional me­dia with­out any de­tails of how each case hap­pened. In­stead they use one or two cases and then use these as the ba­sis of their huge fig­ures as if these were one and the same.

That is us­ing “lan­guage as a source of power, and per­haps es­pe­cially so within the sphere of pol­i­tics.” The team up of in­ter­na­tional NGOs and Lib­er­als who want to re­turn to power can be a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent. It has an in­fra­struc­ture and money to use against Duterte’s gov­ern­ment. As al­ready writ­ten about by other opin­ion mak­ers it has be­come a po­lit­i­cal tool. Aquino and Drilon may have sup­port from in­ter­na­tional NGOs but Duterte and his gov­ern­ment has an un­beat­able ad­van­tage de­spite what SWS sur­vey says – he has the sup­port of the Filipino peo­ple.

Hu­man rights has be­come im­por­tant but it needs to be clar­i­fied as a dis­ci­pline for in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics. But it can also back­fire on those who use it for po­lit­i­cal ends. It es­pe­cially true of the Philip­pines as a for­mer colony of the United States.

De­spite the hu­man rights tra­di­tion hav­ing orig­i­nated in the West and based on West­ern val­ues, it should not be trans­lated into a univer­sal stan­dard.

It has be­come a com­mon­place strat­egy to ap­peal to hu­man rights in or­der to make a case for po­lit­i­cal change. This strat­egy is also what is be­hind pow­er­ful coun­tries in­ter­fer­ence in the do­mes­tic af­fairs of other coun­tries.

Filipinos must choose whether to be on the side of their gov­ern­ment or for­eign in­ter­fer­ence.

Hu­man rights have been politi­cized and are be­ing used to ad­vance power. What is pre­sented in de­fense of univer­sal hu­man rights is in fact done for self­ish rea­sons.

This is why I ad­dress the is­sue as a choice be­tween be­ing for or against our own coun­try.

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