Even before he officially declared his candidacy for president, Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear that he will go hard versus criminals, particularly drug lords and pushers. As the campaign progressed, he and his supporters often cited his iron-clad rule in Davao City as something that can be done throughout the country if he is elected. And given that over 16 million Filipinos voted for Duterte, it is clear that the public believed him.
So now, why are some people so worked up about how Duterte is doing in his first ten days as president? He is merely delivering on what he promised. If they didn’t like his proposed approach to defeating criminality, then they should have made their move during the campaign.
And they could have made a strong case: number one, the effectiveness of the death penalty as a crime deterrent has been challenged around the world. And second, there is now a growing movement toward the legalization of certain type of drugs. Instead, these people seems to have spent most of their energies at that time haranguing Grace Poe and Jejomar Binay.
For many years now, African, Chinese, and Mexican drug syndicates have already gained foothold in the country. Last year, Horacio Hernandez, one of the top leaders of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel, was arrested in Makati City. Also last 2015, it was revealed that Mary Jane Veloso, who is remains in death row in Indonesia, was merely used by the West African Drug Syndicate as a drug courier.
As pointed out in a report by the international news outlet Al Jazeera, this is happening in large part because high-ranking law enforcement officials are either protecting the syndicates or in fact running the business themselves. The involvement of law enforcers in organized crime is something most Filipinos have long accepted as a fact of life. In fact, it has been so ingrained in our national psyche that it is common for movies to touch on the subject, from Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2006) to On The Job (2013).
But even if the presence of crooked police generals is already common knowledge to everyone, no president bothered to do anything about it. It could be because they’re also complicit to the crime, or because they prefer to not “rock the boat,” or they’re really just unaware of what’s happening on the ground.
The bottom line remains – they did nothing. Now, with Duterte, we have a president who actually goes hard against men in uniform who engage in the very crimes they should be fighting hard.