Some Deaths Are Sadder Than Others

(Published as a Facebook Note on March 13, 2019)

My heart goes out to the family of Christine Silawan, the girl who was killed and mutilated in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, a few days ago. I haven’t personally experienced a loved one (God forbid) falling victim to a heinous crime, and it would be foolish to say that I know what the victim’s family is feeling right now.

Just as it would be foolish for me to say that I know the feeling of people who’ve had their innocent loved ones jailed or even executed (many years ago, when the death penalty was still in place in the Philippines). And God forbid, as well, I experience an innocent loved one spend his or her entire life in prison or, worse, get executed wrongfully.

It’s in the air. This growing clamor to bring back the death penalty in the Philippines.

But with a faulty justice system that can’t even arrest Imelda Marcos or jail plunderers (plunder is punishable by death, by the way, if capital punishment were to be reinstated) like Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and their ilk? With a police force that doesn’t mind resorting to shortcuts—like in the case of the killing of Kian delos Santos, wherein three policemen were found guilty of his murder? With the number of wrongfully accused in Philippine prisons right now who can’t even get their day in court?

And lest we forget: it’s easier to round up suspects from the slums of Tondo and Batasan Hills and Payatas than it is from the upscale neighborhoods of Forbes Park, Corinthian Gardens, and Bel-Air.

Don’t get me wrong; I think heinous crimes shouldn’t go unpunished. But sounds to me like there’s gonna be a lot of poor people ending up dead again. This time in a more “humane” way of lethal injection as opposed to getting shot “tokhang” style in a dark alley. I guess this is what the middle class in the Philippines wants right now? Whatever happens to the poor, they deserve it, as long as those drug-addled murderers and rapists from the slums don’t go around killing and raping our children?

The same slums, by the way, where our househelp and carpenters and electricians and plumbers and drivers—and THEIR CHILDREN—have lived their entire lives?

This is the problem I see with the knee-jerk reaction in recent days of clamoring to shoot poison into the veins of criminals. Fix and strengthen this flawed Philippine justice system first. Make sure, first, that MAJORITY of our cops aren’t criminals themselves (again, the Kian delos Santos case, anyone? Or that case of Philippine cops who kidnapped and murdered and “cremated” a South Korean businessman while trying to extort money from his wife? Or the recent cases of cops getting caught with drugs in their possession? Etc., etc., etc.?). It’s not an easy fix, it’s not a shortcut, but isn’t doing the right thing better than resorting to easy fixes and shortcuts?

I learned my lesson the hard way regarding easy fixes and shortcuts—I voted for Rodrigo Duterte, the king of easy fixes and shortcuts. This is a guy who, in 2016 while running for president, asked us to kill him if he couldn’t curb heinous crimes and illegal drugs within the first six months of his administration. I’m ashamed that I voted for him, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was WRONG in voting for him.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the executioner tasked to slam home that syringe’s plunger, especially if I’m not sure that the convicted is 100% guilty. That would be, you know, nothing short of murder.

We all hate MURDER, right? And we should—murder in any shape or form. Murder IS a HEINOUS CRIME.

Speaking of hating murder and rape and all sorts of heinous crimes, this is why we haven’t killed Duterte yet, isn’t it? Even though he specifically dared us to. (In jest or in earnest, who knows anymore with him?) Even though drugs are still rampant in the Philippines, even though rape still happens, even though there are still people running around killing young girls and skinning off their faces. Even though alleged drug lord Peter Lim is currently nowhere to be found, presumably in hiding, and Duterte still has the audacity to tell everyone that he’d kill Lim, his cosponsor at a wedding.

No, regardless of how Joma Sison and Kit Tatad have exaggerated his impending demise, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is still alive and kicking—unlike that girl from Lapu-Lapu who had her face peeled off.

And that just makes me sad, truth be told.

After all, if those anti-crime “advocates” are to be believed, some deaths are sadder than others.