The Ruthless Drug War Of Duterte

“Every day, every hour, I cannot get the fear out of my chest. It’s really tiring and scary to hide all the time. You don’t know if the person right in front of you will inform on you, or if the one facing you might be a killer. It’s hard to sleep at night. One small noise, I wake up. And the hardest part of all is I don’t know who to trust, I don’t know which direction to go every day, looking for a place to hide.”

-Roger, A target of the Philippine Drug War (Source: BBC News)

This is a glimpse at the lives of people in the Philippines with a history of drug addiction or selling. After the start of Duterte’s presidency in 2016, this reality is becoming more and more of a horror story.

Even before his presidency, President Duterte has promised his soon to be constituent that he would kill tens of thousands of criminals once he is seated. He even went as far as urge citizens to kill drug addicts in their communities. His 20 year authoritarian rule of Davao city has earned him the nickname “The Punisher”. (1)

In this post, we will discuss various reasons why we believe that the drug war currently being conducted in the Philippines will fail.

No Country Has Ever Succeeded in Their Drug War in The Past

Columbia’s ex president Cesar Gaviria has warned Duterte of how his own drug war has failed. The Columbian drug war during the 1990’s according to Gaviria not only failed to subdue the growth of the drug menace but also resulted to the death of tens of thousands of people. (2)

A similar pattern occurred during the Alcohol Prohibition during the early 1900’s in the United States. The strict prohibition of alcohol only resulted to raising the value and price of alcohol which then led to giving more power to cartels. Other war on drugs have shown the same pattern.

Public Support Of The Drug War Has Declined

All public policies require the public’s support to work properly. Duterte’s promise to stamp out crime by murdering criminals is one of the top reasons why he was able to garner people’s support.

He did keep his promise by immediately conducting the drug war. A poll was conducted among Filipino citizens regarding whether they support the drug war. The poll was able to report that public support for the drug war has steeply declined by 11 points in just a span of 4 months. (3)

The Judicial System Is Compromised

Lastly, with people being arrested and killed without due process, the judicial system of a country will lose its credibility. A compromised judicial system can affect how justice works in a country. It will result to greater incidence of corruption and abuse of power among authorities.

Duterte has assured his police force protection multiple times. He said he will protect them in case someone files a complaint against them in their performance of duty. Sadly, their performance of duty now includes deciding who gets to live and die. For this reason, the police force has been emboldened to abuse their power.

If you want to understand more about the flaws of war on drugs, feel free to watch this video:

History has again and again shown us that force is not the solution in dealing with any kind of addiction. More so, evidence show that any war on drugs is actually a war on people. Public officials need to learn this as soon as possible before more innocent lives are destroyed by theirs war on drugs.