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HONTIVEROS TO DUTERTE: YOUR WORDS HAVE EFFECT AND WEIGHT OF POLICY, SET INTO MOTION KILLING OF THOUSANDS

President Rodrigo Duterte said that the recent killing of two young people at the hands of the police does not make a policy. This is a reply to my statement that there seems to be a policy that encourages the culture of killing in our country. The president, quite expectedly, even launched a verbal assault against me, calling me "bobo."

I am not a genius but I know that while two deaths do not make a policy, thousands of dead, without remorse, regret, or action from the government, do. 8-13,000 people have already died in this bloody war on drugs, mostly from the ranks of the poor.

Ang libong mga namatay ay hindi bunga ng aksidente. May intensyon, may nagdikta, may sistema at polisiya sa likod ng mga patayan. How could the number of dead reach such catastrophic levels if there is no guiding principle and policy behind it?

In fact, the Duterte government already acknowledged this policy. Justifying the recent killing of 69 suspects in Bulacan, Caloocan and Manila in just one week last month, the President's spokesperson said that there is "rhyme and reason" behind the killings. Even the Chief of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) admitted before media that there is a pattern to the killings.

President Duterte may insult me but he cannot deny the fact that the words coming from his lips, or those of any head of State, have the effect of policy. And the truth is, the President has a well-documented record of encouraging violence against drug dependents and suspected drug pushers. "Shoot suspects if they fight back, make them fight if they don't", "kill all criminals", and "makapatay lang tayo ng another 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country." When they come from a President, these are not just words. They have the effect and weight of policy. Understanding this idea is the reason why Presidents and heads of state practice diplomacy, because they are keenly aware of the effect their words have on their citizens, much more on the state's uniformed services. I don't need engage in an exchange of petty personal attacks and insults with the President to remind him of this.

The President cannot wash his hands of these killings. Through his words and endless provocation, President Duterte set into motion the killing of thousands. He has smeared the image of the police force. He inspired this culture of killing and impunity.

I call on the honest and selfless rank-and-file members and leaders of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help us stop this climate of death. I am not unfamiliar with the police community. I am a PNP widow. I know many of you are honorable and patriotic. I know many of you have worked hard to professionalize the police force. I know many of you are hurting from the actions of a few corrupt and abusive within your ranks.

It's time to end this madness. Let us redeem the reputation and integrity of the PNP. We start this by rejecting the policy that encourages the culture of killing.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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