Lord of the (Filipino) Flies

duterte-vigilanteFaced with that minor distraction we call the Presidential Election, focused on a brash-talking demagogue of our own, many of us Americans may have only noticed in passing that the Philippines, long our ally in the Pacific, has devolved into deadly violent chaos. Since May, more than 3,000 people have been killed. Based on the number of civilians slaughtered in the last six months without due process — “murder” is the usual term — the Philippines is now one of the most dangerous places on the planet, alongside Syria, Iraq and Yemen. (Tourism, anyone?)

The culprits are not terrorists of the usual type. The terrorism gripping the Philippines is home-grown and state-approved.

The newly elected President, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared that patriotic Filipinos are permitted to terrorize their country, killing at will — just so long as the victim had something to do with “drugs.” Which ones? Not clear, but safe to say that consuming Tandhuy rum and San Miguel beer is not yet a capital offense. Paradoxically, smoking marijuana is. Filipino Police units are now death squads; Filipino neighbors are now full-time informants on the family around the corner. Should you have a beef with the guy across the street — the guy who parks in your spot, or makes too much noise in the morning, or looks at your daughter the wrong way — you are now permitted to kill that guy, if you say he had something to do with drugs.lord-of-the-flies-toke

Setting aside the absurdity of blaming “drugs” for the Philippines’ crushing poverty, illiteracy and overpopulation — as opposed to colonialism, corruption and the Catholic Church, immoral opponent of birth control — when a President disdains human rights and tells his country that the rule of law will no longer be honored, it’s akin to placing an elementary class of schoolboys on their own jungle island, free of adult supervision. Bullies emerge, and little Piggies guilty of nothing but weakness are made into victims.

Could it happen here? Our President Elect has proposed for Attorney General a foolish old man who thinks good people don’t enjoy marijuana and that the federal government ought not recognize any of the plant’s medicinal benefits. Raids on licensed business operating legally in numerous states are an alarming possibility. Plus, the President Elect has already signaled that his administration will be very pro-gun. And, really, what good is a handgun if not to protect you and your precious family from drug-crazed druggies smoking reefer?

So before we tsk-tsk and cluck-cluck at what a tragic mess the Philippines has become, let’s take care, extreme care, to not let such a thing occur in the land of the free.

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