Sanctimonious scoundrels

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On the day reserved for remembering the dead, Senators Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan urged Filipinos to pray for thousands of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the administration’s war on drugs, those who disappeared and those who perished in natural calamities.

“De Lima and Pangilinan’s statements were less about prayer for the departed and more of loaded political declarations.

That is the most pretentious and stupid pronouncement they have made so far.

First of all, Filipinos are among the most sympathetic people in the world and undoubtedly many have uttered prayers for the hapless victims of natural calamities, albeit without much fanfare and without drawing attention to themselves as the two lawmakers did.

Of course, such statements also obviously intended to insinuate that the two lawmakers have offered their prayers for the unfortunate ones.

However, the Bible said: “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.”

As to prayers for those who died in the drug war, they should leave that matter to the discretion of the people.

Either they are too dense or blinded by their sense of self-righteousness to ignore the Social Weather Stations survey, conducted on 27 to 30 June 2018, which showed 78 percent of the 1,200 respondents were satisfied with the campaign against illegal drugs, while 13 percent were not, yielding a “very good” net satisfaction rating of +65.

De Lima and Pangilinan’s statements were less about prayer for the departed and more of loaded political declarations intended to denigrate President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

It is a wonder if the two chest-thumping and self-proclaimed champions of human rights issued similar statements during the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III when international human rights organizations raised concerns too over EJK and enforced disappearances.

In fact, Amnesty International Philippines (AIP) gave a barely passing rate for the first 100 days of Noynoy Aquino in terms of human rights protection.

AIP said that from July 2010, when Aquino assumed office, to September 2015, there were at least 438 recorded cases of EJK and 31 cases of enforced disappearances.

In its World Report 2016, Human Rights Watch noted then that with just five months left in Noynoy’s six-year term, his performance on the matter of human rights has been “disappointing.”

It was also during Noynoy’s administration when the Philippines dropped to fourth place among the worst country with unresolved media killings in the 2015 Global Impunity Index of New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“Filipinos are among the most sympathetic people.

The CPJ pointed out that there had been 44 media killings since September 2005 “with complete impunity” — seven under the Aquino administration.

In contrast, the Philippines dropped one notch lower, or fifth place, in the CPJ 2017 report as it noted “progress” in the effort to protect journalists under the Duterte administration.

“The Philippines dropped one place in the index from last year. In October 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte formed the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, which includes a designated team of investigators and prosecutors for the speedy probe of new cases of media killings,” the CPJ report said.

De Lima and Pangilinan’s camp may point out that thousands have been killed in connection with the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration and they are correct.

#RealNumbersPH figures showed from 1 July 2016 to 20 March 2018, there were 91,704 anti-drug operations conducted where a total of 123,648 drug personalities were arrested and 4,075 died.

The number of fatalities represents around 3.3 percent of the arrested drug personalities. And considering the number of operations conducted, such number of fatalities cannot be considered unusually large.

Such figure should also be reckoned with the fact that from 1 July 2016 to 8 February 2017 some 87 law enforcers were killed and another 227 were wounded in the implementation of the government’s anti-drug campaign.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has recently branded as “moral morons” groups and countries imposing their own standards in Duterte’s fight against drugs.

With their sanctimonious and self-serving statements, the two senators have just earned their membership in this odious cabal.

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