state of the “drug” nation

“We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or are put, either behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish.” – Philippine President Duterte, on drug enforcement.

A partial transcript of the speech is here if you want to read it, but it doesn’t contain his adlibs. It was vague, meandered up and away so he could score some comedic points and left me wondering. It feels like populist propaganda to me. But he is the populist Dirty Harry president everybody loves. So why not.

Rodrigo_Duterte_June_2016
President Rodrigo Duterte, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The good points included a nicely scaled down event, no mega-fashion show as with previous years. It’s funny that all it took was a short statement banning it. PNoy must be shocked. I guess vague economic promises, a “ceasefire” and basically a whole of it “it will be like this” without actual statements on what they will do count kind of counts.

Nothing about the China Sea ruling, which for me is a pertinent issue since they are building on the contested land. Nothing regarding the Marcos burial.

Scapegoats are nice. Drugs have always been a nice scapegoat for governments. Nixon knows this too. After all, he was the original “war on drugs” president. A declared war on drugs feels a lot like state-sanctioned propaganda.

Drugs are a pervasive societal issue that affects people at all levels. There’s no one-off solution to “solving” drug smuggling, use and abuse. But it’s easy to please people through a show of force. And it’s easy to please people who are all to happy to hand it over to a president who has a reputation for taking action.

In this context, I can’t help but think of Richter Baykin, the 16-year old student killed in a buy-bust in Baguio. (Buy-busts in Baguio are a laugh and a half, let me tell you.)

What about Jefferson Bunuan, the young scholar shot dead in his sleep next to his cousin. Police say they started a gunfight, so they shot them. Witnesses say they were asleep. Maybe people hide guns under their mattresses these days. In a country where a gun costs more than a month’s salary. (Legally, of course!) Illegally, well.

Do we have a concept of reasonable force in this country? Or is force reasonable because you have the authority to wield it?

Not all cops. Not all pushers? Do we have that kind of hashtag? #druggielivesmatter Every life matters? Or they only matter if they make national news, but if you classify them as no-lives, worthless lives that don’t deserve the basic things other people do, because “human rights cannot be used a shield or an excuse to destroy the country–your country and my country. (Duterte, again in the same speech”.

If so, what other reason can be used? 400 estimated dead due to extrajudicial killings. Of course, some of them were committed by vigilantes in the name of justice.But you have the dubious blessing of The Man in Power.

It’s easier to kill than to prove guilt. He does talk about rehabilitation later on. You can’t put the dead in rehab, though.

You can’t really put the dead anywhere.

Malicioso: LAWZ and DUMB STUFF PEOPLE DO

First off, this was my first reaction to this law.

Here’s a quick guide to the best law ever enacted in the Philippines. Epic blogger Raissa Robles has a lot to say about it, so go over there and read her post. Also, this is my interpretation of the law. Feel free to engage me in active, spirited discussion.

LIBEL

Quickie: suing because of stuff said online isn’t a new thing. The blogger who went after columnist Celine Lopez and her cartel had some legal issues that quickly died out because, apparently, you can’t sue someone for online libel if they don’t live in the Philippines. Also, I read up on libel until I was cross-eyed and here’s my non-legal take on it:

No matter what you say, the law can say you did it with malicious intent. You’re malicioso until proven innocent.

So.

LAST MINUTE

Annnnd, this wonderful politician admits signing it was a huge mistake. THIS is what we have, people. SENATORS who DON’T READ before they sign. I mean, seriously. I read everything I sign.  Cause you know, stuff happens when you don’t read.

The senators who actually signed the bill into law are now “start[ing] to disassociate themselves from it, even claiming they did not read the provision on libel.” GMANews Online says in this article. I’d be running for the proverbial hills. I’d roll my eyes, but you can’t put that online.

I love how our freaking SENATORS SIGN STUFF THEY DIDN’T READ CAUSE IT’S BORING AND THE AIDES DID IT FOR THEM AND I HAD CLIFF NOTES AND LOOK PLAGIARISM. Ya’ll know WHY Sotto decided to put the provision in, right? I mean, did the widdle senator get hurt by all the Internet backlash?

Joker Image

Unrelated image, kuno. 

It penalizes Internet defamation.

So get your IP blockers and troll usernames all up on your shiznit.

Your (our) government can now legally spy on US through our online activities.

I have no idea why anyone would want to do this. I mean, seriously, ask the CIA, FBI and Secret Service people who listen to hours and hours of babble over wiretaps so they can catch fundamentalist terrorists. I bet those guys hate their job. I bet they have an algorithm that searches for trigger words so they don’t have to do it manually.

Whoever ends up actually doing this (I hope they post a job opening on Jobstreet or something) will probably end up seeing people play a lot of Tetris Battle, download cyberpr0n, play endless rounds of DOTA and complain about their lovelives. They will also see a TON of Facebook, seeing as we’re the Facebook capital of the world. If you spy on me, for example, you will note that I spend a lot of time on Cracked, Buzzfeed and occasionally read gossip columns, usually if it pertains to Hugh Jackman posing shirtless on a beach somewhere.

I also read a lot of game reviews and watch a lot of YouTube videos where pets eat lemons, dogs do cute stuff and then I go off and send my weekly donation to the terrorists I support. In the event that this is read by the Authorities, I was being sarcastic about the last part.

The Implications are Disturbing

Restricting freedom of speech and punishing people when they say the truth is always the first cornerstone of a successful dictatorship. One must limit citizen’s minds by instilling fear and then punish outspoken truths. This way, you can crush opposition in your fist and laugh evilly while you do so.

– The Evil Dictator’s Guide to Dictating, Fifth Edition*

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO

Tweet that you didn’t bother to read the bill but are opposing it anyway.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Break the law, OG. Break it till it burns. Don’t forget to wear your V for Vendatta mask.

This one.

Don’t let this law curb what you have to say. Although I must admit, half of what we say online is useless — I mean, it’s human detritus. Your FB newsfeed is proof of that.

I defend my right to say useless things. I defend the right to voice my opinion about what matters to me without fear. I will take action. I will sign petitions. I will actually read the damn law before I say anything about it (seriously Twitterkids, just because the hashtags are trending doesn’t mean you join the bandwagon without arming yourself with information).  Look, I even linked it to a nice article that basically sums it all up. Here’s another one. 

You should also be pissed. Smoldering-Hulk-Smash-I’m-totally-gonna-get-drunk-discussing-this-in-bars-over-beer because I can totally still talk shit offline MAD.

* Not a real book, obviously.