In a recent interview with DZRH’s Joe Taruc, I issued a challenge to the critics of President Rody Duterte to conduct a survey to determine how ordinary people view his relentless and sometimes bloody campaign against illegal drugs.I made the dare in the face of the noisy opposition to the way President Duterte and his people have pursued a drug campaign which has resulted in the death of over 1,000 suspected drug couriers and dealers and the surrender of tens of thousands of others including sellers and users.
The noisy opposition has gone international with demonstrators in New York holding placards calling Duterte a mass murderer.
If you call President Duterte a mass murderer because over 1,000 drug suspects have been killed in the campaign against drugs, what would you call him for ordering his men to prepare a program which would rehabilitate almost 1,000 small-time drug dealers and users?
Did we hear a squeak or even just a faint sigh when a seven-year-old girl was raped and killed by three drug-crazed men?
I am not saying that the killings are right but in the face of the scary reality on the extent of the drug menace in the country, what other options are left for policemen whose lives are also endangered?
Do these noisy critics count the number of policemen also killed in the anti-drug operations or the victims of drug crazed criminals.
So, some people want to criticise the bloody drug war?
Take a look at what is happening in Mexico right now where Mexican Marines are already being engaged in the fight against the drug cartel.
The Mexican experience shows that the failure of government to nip the drug menace at its bud early on resulted in a bloodier situation.
The drug campaign critics will really have to actually feel the pulse of the people in the streets and in the remote areas of the Philippines.
I could rightfully claim to be the most travelled Cabinet Secretary under President Duterte because in barely two months, I have gone to almost all parts of the country to talk to people, especially farmers and fishermen.
In my journey to the countryside, I made it a point to feel the pulse of the people.
Last Tuesday, Aug. 23, I was in Baler, Aurora Province for an engagement arranged by former Senate President Edgardo Angara.
On my home and without informing my hosts, I dropped by the Baler Public Market just to see for myself the food commodities available and the prices.
There I met and talked with many vendors, including a father of a 16-year-old girl.
Roger Sacatani told me that before the campaign against illegal drugs initiated by President Duterte, he did not allow his teenage daughter to go out with friends at night.
“Ngayon po pinapayagan ko na ang anak ko na lumabas kasama ang kanyang mga kaibigan,” Sacatani said adding that he and all of his neighbors who are parents like him are thankful to President Duterte for making their communities safe.
So, who should we believe?
The well-heeled critics and the protesters in New York City or the common folk in the communities in the country?
Still, there’s a better way of determining whether President Duterte is right in his campaign and that is to conduct a nationwide survey.
I would dare say this early that judging by the reaction of people I have talked with, over 90% of the respondents would say they approve of President Duterte and his campaign to confront the evils of drugs.
Sorry, New Yorkers but your placards do not bother us.
Any thoughts? Leave your comments below!