But I weep for the Philippines. Allowing prison guards, police officers, and vigilantes to murder 1,000 or more people every month is not a solution to the drug problem. Abandoning the rule of law will ultimately destroy everything you have accomplished over the past 30 years.
I lived in Mindanao during martial law. Friends of mine were killed or disappeared. They were victims of a government that gave the military and constabulary free reign to kill anyone who did not bow to their power.
I knew Ninoy Aquino and Raul Manglapus and many others who were forced into exile in the US. My heart broke as I watched Ninoy walk out of the plane and heard the shots that killed him. Then the soldiers who pulled the trigger killed Rolando Galman to cover up their crime. This is what happens when the military and police are allowed to kill with impunity.
Then the Filipino people did something that amazed and inspired the world.
You avenged Ninoy's murder by voting for Cory and by standing in front of soldiers and tanks in one of the most extraordinary, peaceful revolutions in modern history. You restored democracy and a free press. You built a world-class BPO industry that competes successfully with India and many other nations. Filipino OFWs and professionals went around the world to enrich virtually every nation on earth as creative, intelligent, hard-working immigrants.
You converted some of the largest military bases in the world into free trade zones and ultra-modern, world-class cities with buildings designed by I.M. Pei and your own outstanding architects.
Think about that for a moment. Think about how you restored democracy peacefully and built a 21st century economy by beating swords into plowshares in less than 30 years.
And now you are allowing the police and vigilantes to commit thousands of murders in the streets? Do you realize that this genie will not go back into the bottle if you let this continue? Do you realize that this threatens to destroy everything you've accomplished?
This is not about your President. It is about you, individually and as a society. Ito ba ang ugali Pilipino? Are you the Filipino who Ninoy said was worth dying for?
Fighting the scourge of drugs and ensuring justice is not easy. We've had plenty of failures here in the U.S. Our own "war on drugs" caused tremendous harm to many people. Innocent people are sometimes killed by our police or convicted by our juries, while the guilty sometimes go free, literally getting away with murder.
But we do not throw up our hands and say, let's just let the police kill all the bad guys. We demand that our police and judges and juries do better. We organize and lobby and protest in the streets and vote to force our government to do what is necessary to become more just and fair. Just as you did in your finest moments during the People Power revolutions.
You have so much going for you right now. A growing economy, a young, educated and creative population, an expanding middle class, and a network of Pinoys in almost every country in the world. You can and should develop closer ties to China. You can and should insist on a new, more mature relationship with your longtime friends in the US. But state-sanctioned mass murder?
As a loyal friend of the Philippines for more than 40 years, and as the father of two Fil-Am children who love their mother's homeland, I beg you. Do not put all of your successes at risk by allowing the police and vigilantes to commit thousands of murders. That is not who you are. You are so much better than that.
Ang iyong kaibigan magpakailanman,
John Howley, Esq.