Who suffers the most, here? Families.
Over the past few weeks or so, we’ve seen two proto-authoritarian presidents demonstrate discriminate violence through corrupt institutions — Trump with ICE, and Duterte with the police force. For this Saved You A Google, we take a look at how these two monsters have been handling their respective issues and the s***storms that surround them. Plus, we take a look at the possibility of the Department of Education conducting drug tests on grade schoolers. Not a good time for children.
Immigration and Customs Enforcements, the government agency also known by the more supervillain-y moniker “ICE,” is the latest tool Donald Trump has used in his ongoing campaign slash crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Trump’s platform, pointedly conservative and extra wary of external threats, has always been wary of illegal immigrants, of possible criminal elements crossing the border. He’s called illegal immigrants “animals,” “rapists,” and “bad hombres.” Y’all might remember one of absurd claims Trump made during election period was to build a wall. But of course we know building a wall won’t work.
Unlike the wall, which Trump’s critics have been right to dismiss as a joke, ICE’s crackdown on immigrants has been gravely serious. The Trump administration has been addressing the issue of immigrant families trying to illegally cross the border by forcefully splitting them, putting the children in detention centers — literal cages — while throwing their parents in jail. Since October of last year, around 2700 children have been separated from their families.
Some people might be surprised to know that separating children from families and holding them in detention centers is not an exclusively Trump thing. ICE has been doing this since 2014, under the Obama administration.
Rightfully, both ICE and Trump have been met with strong outrage, prompting Trump, who previously said he could do nothing about ICE separating families at the border — blaming everything instead on laws made by Democrats, even when such laws don’t exist — signed an executive order to let parents stay together with their kids in detainment. However, so far there have been actions taken to reunite children with their parents. Trump’s administration may want to consider other, more humane and more effective options.
This issue has done a lot to shine a new light on ICE which, some would argue, is a system and agency that is extremely hard to hold accountable. One stance that many of Trump’s critics are making is to abolish ICE altogether. If collective outrage can compel Trump to sign an executive order, then perhaps additional pressure can make the total abolition of ICE happen.
In a statement made on June 14, Duterte told the Philippine National Police to go after “tambays” which, from how we’ve seen the president and the rest of the police force define it, as loiterers who just happen to be standing around in the street, “idling around,” or look suspicious for whatever reason. It must also be clarified that in the statement, Duterte asked the police to ask loiterers to go home, or be brought to Pasig if they refuse.
Since then, nearly 3,000 “tambay” arrests have been made. According to PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, police officers have no authority to arrest loiterers, and it just so happens that those arrested were actually violating city ordinances.
A few things to note though. Firstly: vagrancy — or, loitering, or standing around — was decriminalized by Republic Act No. 10158. Secondly, a lot of the crimes committed by those who allegedly violated city ordinances don’t actually warrant arrests. You don’t arrest someone for littering, or entering a computer shop late at night, or drinking in the street. That’s a slap on the wrist at best. Thirdly, Duterte’s statement didn’t even come in the form of an executive order. He just told the police force over a podium, do this, and they did it, intensifying an already extremely violent, anti-poor campaign whose first face was a bloody drug war.
Last week, Duterte back-pedalled and said that he didn’t order the tambay arrests, stating his case during the 2018 National ICT Summit at the SMX Convention Center. “I never said arrested. But if you are drinking diyan sa alley, ‘yung mga squatter’s area. If you are there, making a sala out of the road there, huhulihin talaga kita.” Boy, that really sounds a lot like ordering arrests.
Later on, Duterte addressed his critics again by stating that if anybody has a problem with the anti-tambay operations, they can take it up with the Supreme Court. “That to me is legal, until the Supreme Court says it is illegal. Until the Supreme Court says they cannot do it. I am now invoking the police power of the state to establish order, safety [and] that is not subject to a legislation.” That’s a tall order though, considering the Supreme Court’s recently demonstrated knack for dealing with those who dissent against the administration, such as the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
As if this government’s anti-drug campaign could get any more ridiculous: the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is proposing to conduct drug testing on children 10 and above. Yup, they want to start checking if children–practically babies– are taking drugs.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said that the proposal came about due to the case of a 10-year-old allegedly involved in drugs, and follows President Duterte’s directive to “enhance the curriculum on preventive drug education.”
Lots of changes are set to take place if the proposal pushes through: DepEd has even estimated that the budget for the program could reach up to P2.8 billion, and Congress will have to amend existing laws because the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 only authorizes drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students.
The whole proposal is bonkers and honestly, seems like a redundant and hastily-formed solution, considering that the Department of Education (DepEd) already has existing drug testing and education programs for students and faculty from high school onwards, with a team validating lesson plans for preventive drug education from Kinder to Grade 12.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones has even mentioned that she would have to meet with Aquino to compare the objectives of their respective institutions, which goes to show how much of a mess PDEA is, if you ask us.