Time was when the illicit drug use in the Philippines was mainly an indulgence of the fringe literati, the burgis, the artists and entertainment circle, far removed from the masa and rural culture with its isolated social pockets of marijuana users. None of the hard drugs and the intravenous drug users; none of varied countercultural movements that was requisite or fuel to the growth of the drug culture. It seemed almost possible that while the drug problem raged in most developed countries, the Philippines would be saved from the scourge of illicit drugs. But, alas, slowly and surely, the illicit drug market has successfully gained inroads into subcultures of users, into collegiate life, and deep into the bowels of Philippine rural life, burgeoning into a raging epidemic of drug addiction.
Today, “Shabu” poses a problem as serious, as frightening, as formidable, as any present day issue confronting the Filipino society. How can a country and a system mired in corruption fare against the commerce of drug trade so empowered by its bottomless coffers and consequent political clout? Many powerful nations have succumbed; the fanfares of their drug wars muffled, their policies inevitably compromised, shifting from prevention into containment.
Sadly, I think the Filipino society confronts an impossible task. The problem is past prevention. Is containment still possible?
I’ve covered enough violent dispersals to know that those who get hurt are often from both sides. BUT there is no such thing as equality in the frontlines. Policemen, and my friends in the PNP have to bear with me here, bear a far greater responsibility both for keeping the peace and for exercising restraint.
They are, after all, the state-sanctioned instruments of controlled violence who have the right and responsibility to bear instruments of death and use them when necessary. Secondly, they represent the state, and by extension, they represent you and me. They bear arms in my name. What this means is that, no matter how pissed off they are, or how rowdy the crowd is, they have no right to use their arms just because they are ticked off. As in any police force, they have the right to bear arms, and they have the responsibility to use them properly and according to law. Having said that, the Kidapawan incident is clearly a case of lessons unlearned after all the bloody demonstrations we’ve had post Marcos. The PNP’s own rulebook is clear, The latest iteration of the PNP operating manual on police operations involving demonstrations, issued in 2013, is pretty instructive. Rule 6.3 says that policemen are prohibited from firing warning shots. Rule 25.6 prohibits the carrying of firearms by policemen within 100 meters from the demonstration. Non-lethal weapons and equipment may be used to suppress violence, the manual says. Force is only used in cases of self-defense, and the force has to be justified and calibrated, and only for particular and specific cases. Hindi yung, nagkagulo na, magpaputok na tayo! Paalisin sila, paputukan na natin! Or, mga militante lang naman yan, hindi mga magsasaka. Ratratan na natin! If you listen to the recorded sounds of the dispersal, you would hear PAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAK … parang may encounter na, and not a dispersal. In other words, one does not use firearms in crowd dispersal, regardless of the political affiliations of the crowd. One does not need to be a lawyer or a genius to figure that out. Strangely, the provincial commander, Col. Alex Tagum, argues that his men had to use their guns “to draw out” the demonstrators, whatever that means. If he meant they fired guns to disperse the crowd, that is illegal and illogical. Do you shoot at a crowd to disperse it, really? How can that ever make any sense? And his other argument, captured on television, was that his men were shooting at the ground, which explains daw why you could see puffs of dust where the bullets strike the ground. Anyone who handles firearms would know that if you fire a gun at the ground at a shallow angle, the bullet ricochets or is deflected back upwards.Some combat troops use the technique of skipping bullets off the ground or walls in urban combat. That was one lesson US troops learned in Mogadishu. Is it any wonder that some people were hit, including one bystander who was killed with a bullet to his side? What it boils down to is this… Ang crowd dispersal ay hindi parang rambol ng mga frat, na, uy teka, nalamangan tayo, o, teka, pagkakataon na ito makabawi. Kung gusto ninyo ang kapangyarihan ng armas, akuin din ninyo ang responsibilidad.
on social media some peeps are saying that too much time is being wasted on the vhong navarro story when there are so many other things going on that are more important to nation. katrina posted this status in response:
no, no. there is nothing stupid, or shallow, or wrong about discussing what truly happened to Vhong Navarro. this is a guy that a mass audience has been watching on TV from Monday to Saturday since 2009. he is someone whose becoming has happened on nationwide television, kicking it off with the Streetboys, and later on doing comedy like none of those other boys could. he has a hit song to his name, hit movies, too. kids watch this guy on TV every day and know of his icon to be about comedy, and wit, and dancing, and fun.
that he has come out looking the way he does is no joke. that the story is about concepts that are the total opposite of his public persona, that it is about rape, extortion, violence, revenge, blackmail, make it an even more important topic for discussion. because the mass audience that watches him on TV every day deserves a discussion about the image of this man they idolize, coming out on TV all black and blue and broken.
there is nothing stupid about this. neither is there reason to think this shallow and superficial. this might seem less important than politics and corruption and the economy (or whatever else), but it is important on the level of culture — and i don’t mean just Vhong as celebrity — but culture as ideology, as the way we engage with the world, and the way things unravel, publicly and otherwise.
this is not any more or any less important than other national issues at this point in time. it is equally important because it is about nation, and it is a discussion that we MUST have because this speaks of and about us. ignoring it would also mean missing the opportunity to engage in a discussion about violence and rape, regardless of whether the latter happened or not.
and really, more important things to discuss? whatever happened to multitasking?
my reaction, when i first saw vhong’s black-eyed and puffed-up face on tv, was consternation: such violence! the guys who beat him up must have been so angry, what’s the backstory? and then, again, maybe the guys were just high on some speedy drugs, and so, wala lang, trip lang?
now we have two quite different versions, one denying, the other alleging, a rape attempt. one alleging, the other denying, below-the-waist kababuyan. the strange thing is, the girl isn’t hiding her face, like the usual rape/attempt victim does, and she has a well-known businessman-cum-personal-body-guard (who admits beating up vhong) doing all the talking for her. very weird.
meanwhile, i hear the nbi finds merit in vhong’s case. i’m just glad that there was no knee-jerk response from women’s groups that are usually quick to scream rape! in support of alleged rape/attempt victims. good job, girls.
watching cnn‘s coverage of giant protests in egypt, take two, i was reminded of edsa dos, of course, and that the foreign press (and erap, too) called it “mob rule” back in 2001. no such words for the egypt action now, how kind. how careful? dealing with a different culture there, and none brings it home more clearly than this story: Gang rape, the dark side of Egypt’s protests by Nina Burleigh, Special to CNN. counting my blessings now.