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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, February 28, 2019
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Hit by the Post

Ninfa Leonardia

How should Filipinos react to the news that the Philippine Embassy in Washington has protested the report in the Washington Post about the war against drugs in the Philippines? Of course it is their duty to do that – protest or complain against what is unfavorable to their nation, but will majority of their countrymen, who are witnessing all the happenings here, back them up? In fact, I suspect, that the Post even sourced its report – figures and places and all – from Pinoys themselves.

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Someone must have timed the report so it would appear on the February 25 issue. The embassy folk angrily said that the item “seeks to discredit the Philippines in the eyes of the international community”. But haven’t our media been pounding on the same reports for more than two years now? Haven’t we been reporting gory tales about the EJKs, or extra-judicial killings, that have been happening all over the country, with apparent impunity, because we have yet to hear of law enforcers involved being made to account for them?

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The Post article carefully skirted libel by saying, “Whether the deaths are mostly related to Duterte’s war on drugs is unclear. But what connects them all is a kind of numbed silence”. It also stated that official reports claim some 5,000 deaths that way, but it says human rights groups believe it is four times more, i.e. 20,000? Well, there are people who even claim it could be more, because, up to now nobody has given any figures, not the police, not the local government units, and not even hospitals and mortuaries.

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That is why, when reports include former Police Head “Bato” de la Rosa among the alleged sure winners in the senatorial contest, doubts come to mind about the reaction to him of the thousands who had lost family members to the war on drugs waged through the EJK. Would he, as senator, always favor laws that would be as gory as the EJK? Well, his nickname is “Bato” which means “stone” or “rock”. I hope his heart is not as hard as those.

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Speaking of drugs, another danger is looming over our country with reports about the entry of cocaine coming from Colombia. Now, cocaine is more expensive and more potent, and shabu is even considered only the “poor man’s cocaine”. So it is to be expected that those who will be the buyers and users of cocaine will be the moneyed group. The President himself has announced that cocaine is coming in from several sources, among them Medellin, Colombia and Mexico. The problem is that ours is a country of many islands – didn’t it say, some 7,100 in our geography lessons – so such illegal items can be sneaked in any of those tiny ones, to be passed on to the capitals. The President himself has admitted the difficulty in providing guards in all those vulnerable places.

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Meanwhile, the chances of Bacolod and Negros Occidental having a senator after the coming elections have increased with the endorsement by President Duterte of Rafael “Raffy” Alunan, for the post. It’s about time, indeed, that we have a member in the Senate, because the last time we had one was more than 50 years ago. We met Raffy in Bacolod recently, and he seemed very earnest about his plan to bid for the Senate. Indeed, he is worthy of it, having been department secretary under two presidents, and performing very well in both.

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His government exposure surely adds to his qualifications for the job. Remember he had been secretary of the Department of Tourism and also of Interior and Local Government. Surely these quality him very well for any position, even, who knows, higher ones than that. But I think he should concentrate some more on waking up his kababayans in Bacolod and Negros Island, because some may have forgotten his performances in previous administrations. Voters can be fickle, you know.

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By the way, if you or your family are thinking of relocating to Manila, think, not only once, twice or thrice about it because you may regret doing so. The latest report says Manila has just been declared the most densely populated city in the world! The report of the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that there are 42,000 people living in every square kilometer of that city that has a population of 21.3 million. So if you do not want to be just a face in the crowd, better stay where you are now. That is, if you are not reading this in Manila.*

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