If an unidentified gunman barged into a hospital and shot dead a man being treated for gunshot wounds in the head that he got from an earlier attack, would you feel safe roaming in the said hospital afterward?
If a police lieutenant in your community was accused of raping a 24-year-old suspected curfew violator inside a police station, would you still allow your daughter to go out at night alone?
If a family member of yours, during a one-time, big-time “Oplan Tokhang,” was dragged by policemen across a dark alley, near your house and into a corner where he was shot dead and was later on tagged as “nanlaban,” would you be at ease every night knowing that any moment you might be the next person to be killed due to the suspicion that you committed drug-related crimes?
I bet not.
Horrendous events like these, which were commonly depicted in action-packed crime and mystery films, now happen in the Philippines not only at night but also in broad daylight in busy streets and in someone else’s household.
Ironically, the 2020 Global Law and Order survey conducted in 2019 by the American analytics firm Gallup revealed that out of the 144 countries, the Philippines is among the 40 safest countries in the world where citizens feel safe and have confidence with the local police.
But human rights groups that criticize the Duterte administration for its human rights violations, particularly its bloody war on illegal drugs, think otherwise.
These groups believe that some 27,000 people were killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016 and launched his intensified campaign against drugs. The government’s tally is a bit more conservative — 5,856 as of September.
These groups also claim that the Philippine National Police (PNP), as per the president’s pronouncements, has been waging a bloody drug war that led to the killing of thousands of drug suspect whom the police said were killed in raids because they fought back.
In June, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that cops habitually plant guns on drug suspects’ bodies, as well as methamphetamine. In one example, the organization discovered that “that the police repeatedly recovered guns bearing the same serial numbers from different victims in different locations.”
A report released by the International Criminal Court in December 2019, meanwhile, said that suspects had been tortured, people were forced to watch their loved ones die, and police officers were raping women as part of the drug campaign.
Moreover, in 2018, the International Federation of Journalists declared the Philippines as the most dangerous country in Southeast Asia for journalists.
In the same year, Global Witness, an international watchdog for environment and corruption, reported that the country was the world’s most dangerous for environmentalists.
There is no place in the world right now that is 100% secure. But if there are many Filipinos who think that their respective community is unsafe, then there is really a security problem that the government must address. For the Philippines to be safe, Filipinos should feel safe.
In one survey, adults were asked whether they have confidence in their local police force, whether they feel safe walking alone at night in their localities, whether something was stolen from them in the last 12 months, and whether they have been assaulted or mugged in the last 12 months.
So if you were to answer these questions, would you respond positively? Taking into consideration what the human rights groups, journalists, environmentalists, and news sources say, is it really safe in the Philippines?