Press Release
March 11, 2021

Dirty war must end, death squads must stop

The dirty war should end and the death squads stopped if we want to spare our democracy from lasting damage that would take generations to fix.

A weakened belief in the rule of law is not a legacy we would like to leave our children.

This epidemic of unsolved killings have rocked our people's faith in our justice system. It is bleeding from a thousand wounds caused by assassins' bullets.

Every time a lawyer is killed, a judge waylaid, an activist executed, a mayor ambushed, a slum teenager murdered, an agent of the state silenced, it strengthens the perception that justice is elusive and crime does pay.

The problem with this mass erosion of faith in the rule of law is that it will drive desperate people to take the law into their own hands.

What is happening on the ground is that killings done with impunity encourage and embolden copycats. Soon we will see the privatization of justice and the boom of the murder-for-hire industry. Bakit pa nga ba ihahabla, kung mas mabilis ang bala?

That, I fear, is the greatest damage to society, and the greatest threat to our children's future, where they will have to live in fear because the democratic guarantee of "justice for all" is gone.

Our republic was founded by great dissenters. We should honor their legacy by treating civic space where dissent can be aired as a protected zone.

Diversity of ideas is essential for democracy to function. Contrarian views result in better government policies. The opposition is needed as watchdogs against excesses. Life and liberty are precious. And activism is not terrorism.

In fact, government should side with activists who fight for better wages, who campaign for decent housing, because these are the very same things it has vowed to fight for the people.

When intolerance beckons, we should remind ourselves that the best way to defeat an idea is to kill it with a better one. Yes, government should fight with all its might against armed combatants. But in the peaceful contest of ideas, it is unfair for the state to bring guns to a policy fight.

Democracy is a large, big-tent arena that has a place for all, even hecklers on the stands.

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