AN extremely depressing order came out recently, within the past weeks.
As usual, I’ll spare the details, but essentially it was an order from the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) that tagged some 300 individuals from the media and the government.
I should not have to explain why this is a problem, but if anything has proven true in recent history, it’s that the most base problems now need to be broken down to simpler terms for digestion.
Let us start with the order itself.
While the uniformed sector may just call it a term for “returning individuals to the fold of the law,” we cannot miss on the association of the tokhang with the thousands upon thousands of dead without due process in the bloody drug war – that has not actually produced much result. But that is a matter for another time.
Essentially, what it boils down to – whether they call it such or not – is a thinly veiled kill order on some 300 people, or at least the threat of such an order.
Why would this be a problem?
Well, setting aside the fact that the uniformed sector is now putting out hits on members of its own populace, which really should be all that needs saying, there are many adverse effects of an issuance like this.
The biggest and most obvious is the chilling effect this has on free speech and freedom of information. No matter how it is worded, the order explicitly calls for the execution of tokhang on the unnamed 300, and that in itself is a major threat. Who would continue to report the truth and draw the ire of the government under threat at gunpoint? Braver people than I, certainly, but the message is clear.
And that’s because the order essentially gives them carte blanche to strongarm whoever they please. The list of individuals isn’t public, and they are simply there on the list because they are “left-leaning, leftists, communists,” the whole works. Who’s to know who’s actually on the list, and if they deserve to be there at all? We certainly aren’t the ones.
The only defining feature of the tagging is that they “lean left.” But never has it actually been made clear what that entails. Am I on the list because I am liberal and against the right-wing? Am I suddenly equal to an armed fighter who has spent many years taking potshots against the military from the mountain-side?
How many others would be considered for tokhang for their views? And how many actually hold those views they consider wrong – the subversive views, the ones that actively rebel against the state?
Perhaps were there some transparency, some evidence of wrongdoing, then maybe the hunt might be more palatable, though I maintain that you can not return someone to the fold at gunpoint.
But as it stands, they have carte blanche. They do not feel the need to present evidence quite yet, and we don’t know if they ever will. The entire list is predicated on “trust us we promise we did it right.”
What will this make of our future generations? Will we raise them on this diet of fear and blind trust, raise them to be afraid of leaning “left,” of asking the hard questions?
What will happen to trust in the Fourth Estate, when the government itself turns on the one check and balance intended to keep it on the right track?
They claim that tokhang is a return to the fold of the law. But you cannot return someone to the fold of the law in a coffin.