We remember some months back before the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 19 pandemic heap thunder on even the most powerful countries in the world, three senators of the United States wanted their government to sanction the Philippines, more specifically the latter country’s officials allegedly responsible for the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima.
And they did it by successfully manipulating the passage of their resolution as condition to their vote for the approval of the United States budget. Of course it was their tacit way of making their government withhold assistance to the Philippines based on earlier approved agreements and commitments between the two countries.
According to the resolution of the three US lawmakers, the incarceration of De Lima is a grave violation of her human rights. One demand in the same resolution is the immediate release of the Filipino lady senator. Another is the denial of Philippine officials claimed by De Lima to be involved in her persecution, entry to the US and cancellation of visas already issued to said Philippine officials.
Immediately after the approval of the resolution the visa issued to Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa was cancelled. And it was probably the immediate cause of President Rodrigo Duterte’s scathing attack on the three US senators.
In fact the US senators’ resolution was considered by many Filipinos both inside and outside of government, as the direct cause of the President’s decision to revoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries. Even harsher was the order of the President to bar any US citizen from entering our country without acquiring Philippine visa. Foregoing the visa issuance to US citizens is a privilege given to the latter in recognition of the strong alliance between the two nations since the time the US set foot on Philippine soil.
The intervention of the US in the Philippine government’s alleged violation of human rights did not bode well with the President.
Claiming that not all deaths as a consequence of the anti-illegal drugs campaign of his administration are perpetrated by law enforcers, Duterte wanted the US to be aware that police operations against drug syndicates are expected to have casualties in terms of lives lost or bodily injuries. This is because those engaged in the illegal drugs trade are not willing to give up their multi-million or even multi-billion peso merchandise to the authorities without putting up a fight.
So, deaths or injuries could happen to members of either the law enforcement group or the elements of drug syndicates be they the small time peddlers or the big-time dealers. And the President knows only too well that when fire fights occur there is also the likelihood of collateral damage.
It is common knowledge that whether the deaths and injuries, direct results of encounters or collateral damage, are caused by policemen’s or the drug personalities’ bullets, it is always the law enforcers that get the heat. They are immediately pointed to as the human rights violators. Policemen slain in such encounters appear to die a lonely, oftentimes unheralded death with only the President, their superiors and immediate family members grieving for their loss. Human rights advocates simply maintain the silence only lambs are known for.
And that probably was how the three US senators, authors of the resolution wanting the sanctions imposed on the Duterte administration and its officials, view the way the anti-illegal drugs campaign is implemented in the Philippines. All they see in the campaign is police brutality. And human rights violations are committed, no doubt for them.
But of late brutalities committed by US policemen and the so-called “white supremacists” stole the attention of the American media from the daily chronicling of the huge number of deaths, people found with coronavirus in their physical system, and the lack, inappropriate or non-action of their federal government on the pandemic.
This came about after two African-Americans were killed unceremoniously by Whites. Earlier, a black American was shot dead by a former policeman and his son while the victim was doing his jogging routine. The suspects were not immediately arrested and had not the incident been videoed and shared to America’s leading television network.
But when the brutal supposed “disabling” of another black American, George Floyd, in the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota happened, all hell broke loss in the country supposed to be the bastion of democracy and leading defender of human rights – the United States.
What police brutality could beat such an act as kneeling for almost nine minutes on the neck of a black American being subdued for suspicion of having committed a crime? And the police did not even know of a crime being done! What human rights advocacy is there in such an act?
The incident immediately led to the instantaneous massing of people, both blacks and whites, to the street where the Minneapolis police station was located. And there started the worst protest activities in the US since time immemorial. Imagine protesters burning the buildings housing the police offices!
The massive protest rallies spread all throughout the major cities of the United States some with violence, burning of buildings and worst, looting in some establishments. Now, the protest against police brutalities and discriminatory treatment of African-Americans are held right at the door steps of the US government, in Washing DC. Yes, in these modern times only in the US, not in the Philippines and elsewhere.
Now the President can turn the table on those pseudo do-gooder American senators. Duterte can send a message to the US legislators with this simple question: “What now Honorable American Senators?”
And he can furnish a copy of his letter to the executives of the United Nations Human Rights Commission demanding that they do the same to the US what they did to the Philippines.
This time it is the President who can have his hearty laugh.