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Politics

Focus on Dutertes War on Drugs

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Ever since he assumed office in June 30 2016, the Philippians’ President, Rodrigo Duerte has been accused of engaging in extrajudicial killings, in his anti-drugs war.

Dutertes has always shown his dislike for drugs, drug addicts and traffickers without providing help to addicts. During his campaign in May, he promised to rid the country of drugs and drug addicts. This earned him a majority support, from those who hated addicts and drugs.

A United Nations report in 2012 showed that a high percentage of the country is deeply engaged in drug addiction and trafficking. According to the report, Philippians has the highest rate of drug usage in the whole of Asia. The report also reveals that about 2.2 percent of the country’s population of males between the ages of 16 to 66 are drug addicts.

Just like any country that breeds local drugs, Filipinos have a local breed called ‘Shabe’ which is a variant of metamorphine. Similarly, a report from the National Drug Enforcement Agency in 2015 showed that Manila’s population admitted to having evidence of drug usage.

This is probably part of the reason Dutertes and other Filipinos who shared his ideology hated drug addicts and distributors. Though people criticized him for his controversial approach in dealing with drug addicts, this is not the first time the president was linked with extra judicial killings to rid the country of criminals.

Also, Dutertes served as the mayor of Davao City for 22 years. During that period, he was accused of being part of the Death squad directly or indirectly. He has not hidden his hatred for criminals either. During the evening of May 9 election, he said:

“If I make it to the presidential palace… I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.”

Who is Affected?

While Dutertes’ intentions might sound noble, his approach is rather too radical. Statistics released by Aljezeera in December 2016, showed that Philippians has recorded more than 6,000 deaths in six months, which is an average of over 1,000 deaths per month.

The killing does not only come from the police- rather his “kill at will” approach ended up encouraging mob killings. It has also led to the death of foreigners (including the daughter of a UK peer), and innocent children below 10 years.

In addition to those killed by the mob and police, similar findings show that over four million people have voluntarily surrendered, while over 40,000 were arrested.

The clamp down on drugs, has received a lot of criticism, for example, the United States vowed to discontinue its developmental assistance. But Dueters always finds a way around such criticism. He once claimed that United States President, Donald Trump is in support of his actions. Similarly, his reply to the Catholic Church is that they had no moral ascendancy to question him.

Is Killing the Solution to Drug Addiction

With so much hatred for drugs, addiction is one left with many unanswered questions such as “Is addiction a sickness or disease?” “Does it deserve such discrimination and harsh laws?”

It will interest you to know that addiction is a theoretical disease. Unlike any other diseases and illnesses that manifest physical symptoms, addiction only manifests psychological symptoms, which can be physical.

According to, Lance Dodes  in Psychology Today, said that  “addiction is a group of behaviors, not an illness on its own’, in his effort to distinguish between addiction and disease. It cannot be explained by any disease process.” This implies that addiction does not manifest the processes of a normal disease. For instance, while HIV is caused by a virus, addiction is a product of emotional choice.

Even if addiction is a disease, should the law permit the termination of someone who is sick, because they cannot get help?

The case of Dutertes and the Filipinos is quite a case of personal interest instead of collective gain. Though the act of engaging in drugs is injurious, not just to the addict, but to the family and the society at large, killing someone without trial will only lead to jungle justice and revenge.

This is why Daniel Gerrald of Addiction Helper is of the opinion that addicts should be given intensive care.

According to Gerrald, “The reason most people don’t make it to rehab is because they die first.”

He further added that “Rehab is the treatment to addiction the same way a pill is to diabetes. Addiction is an illness and it kills again and again if you don’t get treated. It gets worse. It is a progressive sickness.”

To further prove that the Filipino government has not done enough for the addicts, President Dutertes in December 2016 released £16M, in response to the so many injuries and deaths. While the money is a good start, his comments that “I hope one billion [pesos or £16m] will go a long way to treat you this Christmas,” proves that he has no compassion for the addicts.

Similarly, in Philippines, there are only 44 rehab centers, which can only service 150 addicts each in six months.

Addiction is a general issue, peculiar to all humans. For instance, a research by the National Drug Monitoring System reveals that in 2011, there were 298,752 opiates and crack cocaine users in England.

This is why Gerrald further suggested that the best approach to treat addiction is by using the family. Many addicts fall into the act because of a particular emotional vacuum. As a result of this, many feel rejected. The only people that can boost the confidence is the family.

In an interview with Sky News, he said, “the best people to convince addict is the family. Using a clinical method called intervention, the therapist works with the family to device a scenario where the client wakes up in the morning and sees his family around him.”

Conclusion

To sum it all, killing someone who is addicted does not solve an addiction problem. Just like Gerrald said, addiction is a psychological disease that gradually kills an addict if not treated. The best President Roberto Dutertes can do is to stop the hate and help the addicts. However, if any is found guilty of drug trafficking, they deserve proper trial instead of instant death penalty.

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