A few weeks ago, I participated in signing a petition to prevent the scholar, columnist and propagandist Sass Rogando Sasot from acquiring Dutch citizenship, because he – I’m using the preferential style of Mindanao Gold Star Daily for transwomen – is a defender of the war on drugs in the Philippines.
Sasot does not say directly that he is an advocate of the war on drugs, which has killed more than 20,000 people according to human rights groups. Perhaps he has but I have not read of him saying so. People who approve of mass murder are fully aware that it is illegal, so they avoid saying anything that can be used against them in a court of law. They also do not want to be interrogated by an immigration officer whose government is implementing the global Magnitsky Act.
One piece of evidence that the petition is using against Sasot is the YouTube video “Roundtable: How far will Duterte’s war on drugs go?” Roundtable is a London TV discussion program hosted by David Foster. The YouTube post is dated Feb. 12, 2018, six months before Duterte admitted that the war on drugs is a “fiasco.” The guests of the conference were Sasot himself; Gene Alcantara, Director at Alcantara Consultancy Services, United Kingdom; and John Collins, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU) of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
In this exchange of ideas, Sasot defends the war on drugs with two major arguments, herein paraphrased: 1) President Duterte is implementing the war on drugs because he cares about the country, 2) more than a million drug users are being rehabilitated, not killed.
Sasot’s third rebuttal is a personal attack on one of the guests, but I will describe it later.
Let me just give a short, but possibly contestable comment. Sasot appears to be an adherent of consequentialism. For purposes of this article, I will explain it in simple, and possibly unsatisfying, terms.
Consequentialism is the belief that using any method is acceptable if the product is “good.” It does not matter if the method is harmful. What is paramount is you get what you want, or you create a good result. Therefore, it is OK to cheat, as long as you graduate. It is fine to plant evidence as long as you catch an alleged criminal. It is acceptable to use convicts as witnesses to put a pesky senator in jail. So, give a man a gun and shoot him. Apply carpet bombing to Marawi, and permit China to occupy the West Philippine sea.
Consequentialism is embedded in the phrase “the ends justify the means.”
Sasot does not say he is a consequentialist but considering his dreams in The Netherlands (which does not condone extra-judicial killing), and his connection to the reputable Leiden University, we can tell that he doesn’t want to say that he supports mass murder.
We can also tell because when Collins got him cornered, and he ran out of bullets, so to speak, he pulled out an instrument appreciated and frequently used by the DDS: argumentum ad hominem.
He asked Collins beginning 14:28: “Do you speak Filipino? Do you know the culture? How many times have you visited the Philippines? Did you study Philippine history?”
The goal of this interrogation is, of course, to “prove” that a foreigner, despite his education and professional expertise, has no business questioning the war on drugs or any practice, ritual, or celebration in the Philippines. You can only be adopted as a member of the family if you are Kulas.
Vice President Leni Robredo speaks Filipino. She is a Filipino citizen. She knows Philippine culture and history and walks her talk. Under persistent attacks by trolls, she remains undeterred and continues to visit remote barangays to provide legal and social services. Thanks to Duterte, she became the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) and discovered a huge anomaly in just 18 days.
Ask her about the war on drugs, Sasot, and you might get a little bit more educated.
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