Written by: William Miko
The New President of the Philippines Approves the Killing of Drug Dealers and Addicts
Since the Philippines’ new president President Rodrigo Duterte has taken office in June 2016, the War on Drugs has taken on a new meaning.
Duterte ran on and was elected on his promise to rid his country of drugs and criminals. In a nationally televised post-election speech, Duterte said “If (a criminal) fights, and he fights to the death, you can kill him.” He went on to say, “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun… you have my support.” In October 2016, The Washington Post claimed that there have been more than 3,000 murders in the Philippines since Duterte became president, even though he had only been in office since June of that year.
Since Duterte has taken office, the police have been responsible for more than 700 murders and the rest can be attributed to street vigilantes. Durterte has been encouraging his people to murder gangsters, drug pushers, and even addicts. In a quote from CNN, Duterte said to the public, “if you know any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourselves as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” The encouragement of killing drug addicts has alarmed many and has garnered international attention because others in the Philippines are speaking out about human rights that are being violated.
Offering a Different Alternative
According to President Duterte, his intentions are good. He’s taking such measures because he wants to protect his country. As he has openly said that in an interview with Al Jazeera, “If you destroy my country, I’ll kill you. That is a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I’ll kill you. That is a very correct statement.”
Duterte went on to say that his problem is how to take care of the law-abiding citizens of his country, and it seems he is willing to do so by any means.
Some addicts have been so scared that they have turned themselves in to the police out of fear for their lives. According to the New York Times, more than 687,000 drug offenders have surrendered to the police. When they surrender to the police, they must sign a pledge to never do drugs again, but the government is ill-prepared to handle the influx of addicts in need of help. The New York Times also claims there are only fifty accredited drug rehabs in the entire Philippines, which are already full. Some 15,000 people who have surrendered have been sent to jail instead of helped.
Rehab facilities, addiction education, and non 12 step recovery programs could be implemented across the country. Non 12 step recovery can mean finding alternative ways to naturally deal with their addiction problem. Some non 12 step recovery includes faith-based rehab, holistic therapy, art therapy, exercise, and even behavioral therapy to unlearn old habits and behaviors. The people of the Philippines, if they want to change, need to be able to do so. There are skills and resources for addicts in recovery that can truly work to change them, instead of murdering them and using scare tactics.
If the President of the Philippines wants to rid his country of drugs, he should consider ways to help his people, not punish them. It appears that the people of the Philippines want to change, but the country does not have the resources or strategies to help them do so.
Author: William Miko is a researcher and writer in the fields of addiction, recovery and health. Also a fan of politics, sports and foreign affairs.