When I saw the picture. I nearly cried. Not only because this girl lives in the nearby city of Lapu-lapu and a Cebuano like me but also the fact that she was too young and innocent to die. Until now, I couldn’t fathom the sheer brutality inflicted against this young girl. Merciless. They deliberately took the skin on her right face revealing the skull exposed to the elements — they left her in an open field, stripped naked. Even the police suspected that she’s been raped and murdered after her assailants basked in their greed of flesh. They rob her not only of her innocence but of her life and a chance to make things through.

Her name is Christine Lee Silawan. She’s an church collector.  During the attack she’s even still wearing her church clothes. According to her mother. She failed to come home last Sunday evening. Only to find out later that her corpse was left to rot in a vacant open grounds in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu. And her left cheek’s skin has since been peeled off exposing her skull. According to the police. It may well be a deed of a person influenced by illegal drugs.

More than 3 years of Duterte’s strongman rule — the streets aren’t any safer at all!?

I have once been one of Duterte’s supporters and believing that his strongman rule could be the only key to peace and stability. I opted to vote for him. I remembered how he proudly used Davao City as an example where people walk safely at night. He said that he’s going impose curfews and ensuring strict rules to be followed which may in turn gradually deprive us of our freedoms upsetting out many of the remaining Martial Law survivors who has lived to tell the tale of its horrors. Many continued to support Duterte regardless seeing that his promise should it be fulfilled will ensure safer streets and better well-disciplined citizenry. Most of the crimes that ails society was conveniently blamed on the proliferation and use of illegal drugs. I was one of those who initially supported his plan to eradicate drugs. Though it was not clear to me — what it would be like. Until it’s too late.

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If you walk through the streets today as you would in 2015. There really isn’t much of a difference. Drugs continues to be a problem. Big time druglords continues to exist. Noteworthy perhaps is Peter Lim himself who hails in Cebu and a very good friend of the President. The promises of eradicating criminality by slaughtering thousands of innocent people is all but a waste. A useless policy that left us thousands of innocent orphans. What is worst of all — he admitted that the number of drug users has since increased from 3 Million to 8 Million this 2019. How could you accept this brazen admission of his failure? This to me is no longer acceptable.

Killing people does not deter people to kill people — result? More dead people

The tragedy and the untimely demise of Christine Lee Silawan was just one of many. Those who were deliberately executed and shot in front of their children. Even children mowed down by machine-gun fire coming from masked assassins later to proven as policemen acting out under a kill quota to hunt down alleged drug pushers and users then get paid per head. The strategy was pretty simple as Duterte would say in his speeches. Kill them all! And so his soldiers and policemen followed his orders. It was a sad sight. Crying mothers. Crying fathers. Lo and behold? A warzone right in our streets. The government has just declared war against its people. The problem is — anyone can be targeted — anyone can be mercilessly tagged and murdered under the false pretense of fighting against drugs. And what did we get? More drugs. More criminality.

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For all those years. We’ve learned a painful lesson. All the tough-talk. The killings. They have never been effective. There will be more and more criminals drug-users/pushers. Even if we give Duterte his emergency powers. We couldn’t get even curb criminality in ways that we are doing now.  The world knows this. You can ask the United States, Thailand, Portugal etc. They’ve been there and done it. Neither worked. There has to be another way. If we were to set aside our conscience and our humanity as we allow our anger and hatred consume us. Where will we ended up with? Who do we shoot? Without the impartial course of justice. Anyone can be the suspect. The truth of the matter is that any form of killing only results to more deaths and does not help minimize criminality at all.

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Remember the Chiong Sisters? We almost put an innocent man in the electric chair

I’ve seen the fascist mob harping the tune of Martial Law and Death Penalty in social-media.  I know and I can understand them. These people were as mad and as shocked as I am on the tragedy which befell the young innocent girl Christine Lee Silawan, To me, she didn’t deserved it. And I sympathized with her families as much as I sympathized with those families who lost their loved ones from Duterte’s Tokhang. And by forcing the police to come up with random names and people to prosecute we are forcing them to commit gross injustice in order to serve our own narrative and quench our thirst for blood.

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I appeal to my fellow Cebuanos. Don’t let your heart be steeled with hatred and prejudice. We can’t let our self be the rowdy mob again who back in the years chanted death penalty against Paco as he entered the halls of the Capitol. Oh, I’m sure you’ve watched how his case can be a strong and undeniable example that anyone can be easily villified and maliciously prosecuted for the crimes they had not committed. The worst part of it all is that whenever there’s a Death Penalty. There is no turning back.

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Let us be wary in venturing the idea of Death Penalty. I strongly believe that with a strong and well-trained, monitored, equipped and motivated police force. They can better patrol the streets and ensure the safety of our citizens. Along with that, we can also strengthen our legal institutions so they can investigate and impose impartial judgement for the benefit of both parties. We can’t let our biased political leanings erode our humanity.  Killing is not a solution. Find the offender and charge him. Give him his time in court. If the court finds him guilty — then so he must pay for his crimes in confinement.

God bless your soul Christine Lee Silawan. I pray that justice will be served soon as well as those thousands killed and butchered in Duterte’s drug-war who yearned for the same.

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