Saturday, July 2, 2016

Kill the drug lords, not the drug addicts

What a sad news to read that newly elected Philippines' President Rody Duterte was quoted by The Washington Post to have ordered the killing of "drug addicts", a departure from his earlier statements which ordered civilians and the police to only "kill drug lords and pushers" if they resist arrest or they fight back.

President Rody Duterte hands over saber to the newly installed AFP
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya. Outgoing
Chief of Staff Gen. Glorioso Miranda looks on.
Photo: M. Pascua, PCOO, PNA
In fact, President Duterte even urged members of the military to help the law enforcers contain the spread of illegal drugs and arrest those drug dealers who are destroying the future of the young generation and the Philippine society in general. Duterte made this call during a turnover rites at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In the Martial Law years, the late President Ferdinand Marcos had approved the deployment of "secret marshals", a bunch of law enforcers who were licensed to kill any criminal caught on the act of perpetrating a crime. When words came out in the media that "secret marshals" in civilian clothes would be riding public transportation such as buses and jeepneys anytime of the day, crimes had considerably dropped to the delight of the commuters.

For me, it was a media stunt to warn criminals in advance not to commit crimes which had victimized ordinary civilians on their way to work or home. And in order to protect the public from unwanted harm from criminals, the idea of sending law enforcers, who were licensed to kill, was hatched. For a while, it was effective as those who wanted to stage a robbery inside public buses plying long distance routes were relieved when the perpetrators were shot and killed while they're committing the crimes.

Distinctively, President Duterte's style of running the government is likened to "authoritarianism."

Wikipedia defines authoritarianism as a style of leadership that is being used when "a leader dictates policies and procedures, decides what goals are to be achieved, and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by the subordinates."

I think his latest order, which may have been taken out of context by the media, could have been to target "drug lords and dealers" instead of the "drug addicts" who can be described as plain users of illegal drugs.

Targetting the drug users is not practical at all. Their dependence on illegal drugs is even more spiked when there's an abundance of supply in the market. Therefore, blame the drug lords who are always on the lookout for people who can be trusted to peddle sachets of "shabu" whose retail price is readily affordable among the addicted populace.

And killing the drug addicts won't resolve the gargantuan problem of drug addiction in a country whose more than 70 percent of its population are impoverished. Perhaps, what the new administration can do is to set up more rehab centers that are fully funded and equipped with modern facilities and equipment in order to sustain the reforms needed to correct their drug addiction.

But the war on drugs must start with the barangay level, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

In this concern, barangay officials and the law enforcers must closely coordinate on how to tackle the rising incidence of drug distribution and addiction. In order to cut addiction, the sources of illegal drugs' distribution must be cut. Likewise, close monitoring of drug dependents must also be  put in place after their discharge from the established rehab centers.

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