Protesters gather on Edsa to condemn bloody war on drugs
On a rainy Monday, hundreds of protesters trooped to the People Power Monument to condemn the Duterte administration’s bloody and brutal war on drugs and to call for an “impartial” investigation on the killings that they said has reached “a tipping point” with the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos.
Shamah Bulangis, secretary general of Akbayan Youth, said that the multi-sectoral gathering, attended mostly by the youth, was not only a way for them to show sympathy to the Delos Santos family but also to “show our outrage to what is going on” in the country.
Bulangis said that the government should immediately stop its war on drugs and go back to the drawing board, as the “youth are already being killed” – the sector that President Rodrigo Duterte sought to protect as he launched his brutal anti-drug campaign last year.
She noted that while countless others had died in the war on drugs, even as young as four years old, the death of Delos Santos death was the tipping point.
“He has become a central figure because his death is the only one that has evidence [against the police],” Bulangis told the Inquirer. “It gives us more balls to say that this government is corrupt in its war on drugs.”
Bulangis said that the rampant killings showed the need for an “impartial, credible and independent investigation” to be launched in order for criminal charges to be filed against abusive police officers.
The groups at the rally, composed of the Millennials Against Dictators, Block Marcos, Youth Resist, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines and The Silent Majority, among others, also condemned the apparent “kill-only” policy on the war on drugs.
They said that more than a year into the Duterte administration, it should already look at the drug problem as a mental health issue.
Bulangis said that Duterte should also “be held accountable” as he was the one “who instigated the war on drugs.”
Several placards at the rally brought by protesters showed the difference between the allegations of drug involvement thrown to the poor and influential people, such as Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
One of them said that due process is afforded to the rich while death is given to the poor.
“Due process is not a privilege but is a right,” Dakila artist group’s Tasha Kintanar said.
As of 7 p.m., police estimated that the crowd at the People Power Monument numbered at 400. Organizers, however, said there were around a thousand protesters who braved the rain.
One of them was 26-year-old Isabel who was not part of any group, but came on her own.
She told the Inquirer that it was part of her “civic duty” to take a “moral stand” to what had been happening in the country.
“We don’t have any political clout. What we can only do is to stand up against injustice with the hope that someone will listen,” she said.
Given the chance to speak to Duterte, the University of the Philippines alumna said that she would want to tell the President “to realign his morals and rethink his policy.”
She pointed out that gatherings such Monday’s was essential to put a stop to the senseless killings.
“If he doesn’t stop now, he will not stop in the next five years,” he said. “That’s why rallies matter. Hopefully, the people’s criticism will change his mind.” /atm
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