Bloody Christmas in the Philippines

(UCAN) Christmas is a festive season into which love and generosity are woven as timeless virtues.

Or so we think.

This Christmas is bloody. It compels us to pause and rethink the memories we are to create this season. If the season were about joy and life, how do we square it with all the killings that now happen around us? How do we square it with a government that wants to reinstate the death penalty? How do we square it with the president’s admission that he himself has killed people?   

The numbers keep changing. But recent reports show that more than 6,000 deaths linked to the war on drugs have been reported, 2,124 of which took place during police operations. According to the Philippine National Police, there are at least 4,049 unexplained killings.

To be sure, the public willingly approves of the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs as a whole. Such acceptance is not surprising given that more than 900,000 around the country have surrendered and more than 41,000 have been arrested. These numbers are making an impact on the public for whom criminality and substance abuse are tangible concerns. Given these figures, the National Police chief claims that people feel safer now.  

The numbers do not immediately include innocent individuals killed in the line of fire. These accidental deaths are readily dismissed as “collateral damage.”

And yet at the same time, a survey shows that 94 percent of Filipinos believe that it is “very” or “somewhat important” that drug suspects are caught alive. Only one percent said it is not important at all. [More]