Vice President Leni Robredo underscored on Thursday the importance of democracy and rule of law, as he cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte on his order for soldiers to shoot and kill armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Speaking to reporters after the Bonifacio Day commemoration in Caloocan City, Robredo said the government should still observe rules and procedures in penalizing rebels. Robredo believes that the shoot-and-kill order versus the NPA would undermine the rule of law and democracy.
“Parang hindi naman ganoon iyong sinasabi ng Konstitusyon natin at mga batas na nandiyan. Ang sinasabi ng ating mga batas, na kapag mayroong nagkasala, mayroong proseso para alamin kung totoo ba iyong paratang, at mayroon namang nararapat na penalidad sa mga paratang,” Robredo said.
(It appears that is not what our Constitution states. The laws say that if one commits crime, there should be due process to investigate if the allegations are true, and there are corresponding penalties to those crimes committed.)
Duterte, in a speech in Sual, Pangasinan on Wednesday, said government troops should shoot and kill armed members of the NPA because “they will kill” soldiers anyway.
“So what will be my order to them? Di shoot them. They will kill you anyway. If there is an armed NPA there or terrorist that’s holding firearms, shoot and tell any…ako na lang magsagot (I’ll answer for you). You just shut up,” Duterte said.
Robredo, however, disagreed with Mr. Duterte, saying such move would only weaken the rule of law as well as democratic institutions.
“Kung pinapayag natin na ilagay sa ating mga kamay iyong batas, parang pinapawalang-bisa natin iyong ating demokrasya, pinapawalang-bisa natin iyong rule of law at iyon iyong simula para magkagulo-gulo tayo,” she pointed out.
(If we would put the law into our hands, it’s like we’re undermining democracy, invalidating the rule of law. It would be the start of our disarray.)
“Kaya tayo mayroong mga institusyon dahil itong mga institusyon na ito ang nagsisigurado na parating maayos iyong pang-araw-araw na pagkabuhay natin. Kapag sasabihin natin na puwede tayong magpatay kasi mayroon tayong binibintangan na gumawa ng krimen, anong mangyayari sa ating lahat, ‘di ba?” she added.
(That’s why we have institutions because these institutions ensure that we live our lives decently everyday. If we kill because we are merely accusing people of crimes, what would happen to us?)
Last week, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 360, terminating the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP); its political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF); and its armed wing, the NPA.
Mr. Duterte has repeatedly said he had “given too much too soon” to the rebels and questioned their sincerity in engaging in the negotiations.
Robredo, for her part, said that the termination should only be a “temporary hump” in the quest for peace, adding that it should always be the government’s obligation to find ways how to achieve it. /kga
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