Editorial: Strike the kill list

The Filipinos were riveted when President Duterte announced that he possesses a list of the names of suspected drug lords or those connected with drug syndicates and the illegal drug trade in the country. From then, we often hear him threatening those on the list to surrender or face dire consequences. It is now aptly referred to as “The Kill List.”

And once people get a whiff that they are in that list, they come running to Malacañang to insist they are innocent. Duterte’s list include some prominent political figures and businessmen, where most claim of their innocence, some don’t bother to turn up. His list became a weapon that he uses to taunt the suspected drug lords into confessing.

This list includes politicians from Legazpi. It is quite alarming that the names of our honourable leaders are tainted and accused as the protector of illegal drugs. Even if this allegation is true or not, we believe that there will be negative effects regarding this issue.

First, the trust of Legazpeños to its local officials will decline. Trust gained from their constituents is important because they are the beneficiaries of the services that these leaders will provide. It is similar to a customer-seller relationship, wherein the seller was to make their customers satisfied with the goods or services they provide. Trust is a fickle thing. Even the possibility that the accusations are true, people will feel betrayed by their leaders. Since these officials are the faces of the local government, low trust from the people may also mean low participation in local government programs. It is vital to have a strong bond between the leaders and residents in order to have successful programs in the community.

The questionable integrity of the political heads may also disrupt the already established connection with the investors coming from the outside community. The issue may influence the financiers’ decision in investing in the locality. The supposed jobs and revenue that the possible investors will generate, will possibly decline. This means that the possible increase of the employment rate and local revenue will be put at risk. For example, an owner of a business from Davao wants to have a branch in one of the barangays here in Legazpi. After hearing the issue of barangay officials as protectors of illegal drugs, there is a possibility that he will think twice in opening the same business in the area. His trust in the security of the future business will decrease and it is more likely that he might withdraw his plans for that area.

On the other hand, the trust of the Filipinos in the government may increase because of the issue by showing that no one, not even politicians or judges, is above the law. But the problem is that the said trust is also uncertain because those who provided the list did not supply evidences. This will make the situation unfair to the people who are in the list. Trust will not be built completely because of the doubt brought about by the claims.

This list is little more than idle speculation if there is no proper evidence and due process. All it did is to taint the names of the local leaders and induce doubt to the hearts of their constituents, effectively weakening their influence in the area. The real solution to this issue is to prove that the names in the list are really involved in drugs through court litigation. The judgement process should be fast and accurate. If the list is proven, then the officials must be replaced and in return earn the trust of the people. If the officials are not guilty, then, their names will be cleared and the trust will be rebuilt. We are in the middle of so many issues that will affect us to move forward as a nation. The longer this issue is hanging around, the more problems will arise. This must come to an end. ■ By Aquinian Herald Editorial Board 2016–2017