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[OPINION] Down the road to perdition

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Jan 06, 2021 1:59 am

The past few days exploded in a frenzy of flaring tempers.

A Philippine Airlines flight attendant, a former finalist of the Mutya ng Davao, was found dead in a bathtub at the City Garden Hotel in Makati. The day: New Year’s Eve.

CCTV footage showed a party where several people had gathered with the said victim despite national and local government health protocols that have been set in place.

PNP Chief Debold Sinas, in what seems like an attempt to play the hero, claimed not only that it was a ‘rape-slay’ regardless of any shred of conclusive evidence, he also insisted that the case was ‘solved’ with the ‘arrest and indictment of three suspects.’

After having failed to revive the woman at the hotel, 23-year-old Christine Angelica Dacera was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Debold Sinas, in what seems like an attempt to play the hero, claimed not only that it was a “rape-slay” regardless of any shred of conclusive evidence, the police general also insisted that the case was “solved” with the “arrest and indictment of three suspects.”

Insane that he should say this because while investigators had yet to draft an official autopsy report or any report for that matter.

Few days into the case, social media flew into a rage. The mere mention of the word rape was enough to trigger not only lengthy discussions on the subject, but skirmishes on Twitter and Facebook.

The picture was anything but encouraging. The victim-blaming, coupled with the lynching of the suspects, set further fire to what was already a running conflagration due to the Presidential Security Group vaccine scandal.

Both sides of the political divide seem to have fallen into a huge ravine from which there was no saving one’s self.

In short, it’s quite disturbing how Filipinos exhibited the very character they say they despise.

Violence has many uses. For tyrannies, state violence helps in forcing the public to toe the line. Aggression also silences critics, both through enforced censorship or by its ultimate form—murder.

But there is one other use for violence that most people overlook: relentless impunity pushes the public to a corner. Without means to justice, they end up choosing vengeance.

By vengeance, I mean cutting corners, ignoring due process, turning a blind eye from law and human rights if only to stop criminality dead on its tracks. To them, retribution is paramount. Thus, all are guilty until proven innocent.

The supposed rape-slay case of Christine Angelica Dacera exposed the canker in our bones. The drug war killings, the assassinations, and the continuing immunity of guilty parties from prosecution, have brought us to this stage where tempers flare at the slightest provocation.

Rape is a vicious and horrid crime. But it should never be at the expense of due process. Impunity can only be fought using conclusive evidence formulated using the science of investigations.

Let’s not even go to where in 2019, more than half a million women were raped and sexually assaulted worldwide. And that’s a mere fraction of the millions of other unreported cases.

The movie The Crucible, based on the novel by Arthur Miller, shed light on how a society, brought to its knees by religious superstitions and aggression against women, chose to lynch those accused than to be party to their “witchery” even as evidence was wanting.

The novel was written by Miller as a critique of the 1950s red-baiting of Americans during term of communist-hunter U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m out for blood all because rape is a vicious and horrid crime. But it should never be at the expense of due process. Impunity can only be fought using conclusive evidence formulated using the science of investigations.

Anything less should be subject to intelligent analysis.

A show of hostility for mere suspicion only helps in morphing what is already a monster in our midst: impunity mutating to anarchy.

The police agency’s insistence that it was a rape-slay case prior to any conclusive evidence is now being contested by a medico legal report. The report states that Christine Angelica Dacera died of ruptured aortic aneurysm.

It would be wise to wait for any further details as investigations are still ongoing.

Tyrannies have one goal: to turn the public into its violent, hostile self. When the line that distinguishes us from the berdugo is blurred, the public’s moral ascendancy would’ve been breached.

Should this continue, soon there will be no telling between us and the monsters in our midst.