Democracy at work

This June 23, 2022 file photo shows National Security Adviser Dr. Clarita Carlos speaking during a roundtable discussion in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

This June 23, 2022 file photo shows National Security Adviser Dr. Clarita Carlos speaking during a roundtable discussion in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

BEFORE the month of June ended and with it her job, the spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), ex-undersecretary Lorraine Badoy praised the selection of Dr. Clarita Carlos as the new national security adviser. But while heaping praise on the retired University of the Philippines political science professor, Badoy also blithely said perhaps Dr. Carlos may have needed more information before the latter said red-tagging should have no place in the Marcos administration. Dr. Carlos had called red-tagging “just mere labeling, which is a lazy way of thinking.” But Dr. Carlos stuck to her guns, knowing fully well that she would have the ear of the new administration since the comments lobbed against her came from a former government official.

Hardly had this issue died down than the Ombudsman gave former undersecretary Badoy and two other former NTF-Elcac officials 10 days to answer the charges filed against them by the National Union of Lawyers of the Philippines (NULP). Two years ago, the NULP was red-tagged as a “legal front” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and its members (and social media sites) were harassed and bullied.

Commenting on the Ombudsman's action, the NULP noted the irony in the situation since the officials they had hauled to court were no longer working for the government. But it does show that even though justice grinds slowly in this country, sometimes exceedingly slow, it still moves. The new justice secretary, former Cavite governor Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, has also said instead of red-tagging, cases should just be filed in the courts.

Another issue, again, involved the now famous and intrepid national security adviser. The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently issued a statement that since the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the previous government did not pursue the cases on the brutal deaths associated with the drug war, it would go ahead and investigate former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Even before he assumed office, however, Remulla had shut the door on an ICC investigation of the former president. He said we should just let the DoJ do its job of ferreting out the truth on the drug war. To recall, this drug war was front and center during the Duterte administration in its single-minded desire to rid the country of illegal drugs and its discontents.

But like the insects flying out of Pandora's box, the power given to the police seemed to have gotten out of hand. Instead of focusing on the source1 of the drugs — the bigtime businessmen and their cohorts — firepower was unleashed on the poor, some of whom were drug users. But some of those who became victims of the drug war were not even drug users, but just collateral damage (i.e., innocent children whose lives were snuffed out too early).

For his part, then president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told a delegation from the United Nations that his administration would give due respect to human rights and would follow international law and treaties to which the Philippines was a signatory. He added that in his administration, even officials in high places would be held accountable for violations against human rights and the rule of law.

And with words blazing, Dr. Carlos said the ICC should be allowed to come into the country and do its job of investigating the people involved in the brutal drug war. Using the lens of scholarship, she said the ICC should be allowed to dig for facts, look for data and evidence, and talk to warm bodies in order that it could come up with its own conclusions. She even said the investigators should be welcomed and given all access (and a security detail) to do their job.

This is how democracy works. Not through name-calling or lazy labeling for only through rigorous research and incisive investigation will the truth come out. If the truth will set us free, as they say, then let the truth come out in order that we can move on to the more difficult work of rebuilding a nation.

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