The war in our midst

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The war against illegal drugs being waged by President Rodrigo Duterte is shaking the very foundations of the nation.

Time was when the involvement of powerful and high-profile individuals in various stages of hanky-panky circulated only in the rumor mills. Over time, they die a natural death – the rumors unverified and unresolved.

Not so with Pres. Duterte.

Just over a month into his presidency, he has done what previous presidents failed (refused?) to do: bite the bullet and take the bull by its horns.

The result has shaken – and continues to shake the nation.

Drug pushes and users who have terrorized communities have turned up dead in many places of the country.

Suddenly faced with the prospect of suffering the same fate, drug users have turned up in droves to surrender in almost all parts of the country. The turn-out has surpassed expectations such that local governments are now scrambling for ways to deal with the self-confessed users and addicts.

Of course, not everybody is pleased with this.

While most people are horrified by the monstrosity of the problem, there are those who are doing everything they can to villify the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Every now and then, relatives of one of those who ended up dead comes up with realistic claims that point to summary executions. There is some truth to that.

Sources in the underworld reveal that there are indeed executioners out there who fire both into people with drug connections and those who have none.

The reason for the first is obvious: silence potential whistle-blowers who can link not only people running the drug trade but also their protectors including politicians and men in uniform.

The second is not so obvious. They kill innocent people who will later be glorified because they are obviously victims of mistaken identity. With every death of an innocent person, the anti-drug campaign suffers in terms of credibility and accuracy.

With due apologies to the church and human rights advocates, many people applaud the death of the certified rascals who have actually committed crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and theft.

On the other hand, the death of people whose involvement are limited to drug pushing and selling does not automatically generate the same response. Never mind if in reality, they deserve a fate worse than death because they are the ones who have turned meek lambs into agents of death out of the shameless desire to make money at all cost.

Needless to say, law-enforcers are having their hands full. They are waging a full-scale war against powerful drug syndicates who now wield considerable influence both over politicians and the police.

At the same time, they also have to deal with a nameless and faceless enemy who kill at random to take the wind out of the sails of the widening drug campaign.

As if this is not enough, there is also that part about rotten eggs right inside the basket who sabotage the campaign because they are silently but actually working for the enemy.

Such is the magnitude of the problem. Such is the current state that was left unattended by previous administrations for reasons only they know.

Critics and opponents of Pres. Duterte are going full throttle in their bid to stymie his campaign and obviously to stop him. It is not clear if they listen to the same beat but the constant badgering can only benefit the drug and crime syndicates who are desperately trying to at least get a ceasefire if not completely end the campaign.

This brings us to the most important question: is this a war we want to win, or just watch from the sidelines?

Many people think they are mere spectators who can watch from a vantage point. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

If Pres. Duterte succeeds, the nation benefits from it. Pres. Duterte has always maintained that we can only talk of progress if peace and order reigns.

If, God forbid, he loses, guess who will be the biggest loser?

The war against drug is a war that should have been fought a long time ago but wasn’t.

There is no use wasting time arguing about who was responsible for it. All of us are – either by sin of commission, or sin of omission.

This is a war that takes no prisoners. The enemy is not necessarily out there on the streets. It could be right inside the home. This being the case, there is no argument that this is a war that must be won.

Which leads to the final question that each one must ask: which side are you on?

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