THE Philippines has been a victim of drug abuse. This is why Pres. Rodrigo Duterte personally waged war on illegal drugs during his campaign. He promised to rid the country of drugs and crime not only at the streets but also at the higher echelons of society. In doing so, he warned that 100,000 people would fall when he finally launches his war on drugs and crime.
Officials said there are about 3.7 million drug addicts in the country, a figure that they said reflects a problem of “epidemic proportions.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) recently reported that a total of 5,882 suspected drug dealers, traffickers, and users have been killed across the country since Duterte launched his war on illegal drugs.
The latest PNP data culled from July 1-Dec. 6, 2016, showed that 2,041 drug suspects were killed by the authorities, while 3,841 were “murdered outside police operations” from July 1 to November 30.
Is anyone winning the war on drugs?
For PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa, the government is on the winning side with more people now saying they feel safe in their neighborhoods.
“I’m very proud to say that despite all the criticisms and noises, extrajudicial killings and summary killings accusations against me and the PNP, things like that, still we face our mission with more courage because I know that we are working for the people,” the PNP chief said.
He cited that within three months, 720,000 drugs users and peddlers have surrendered and 22,00 others were caught in buy-bust operations as proof that extrajudicial killings were not a recourse in the drug campaign.
“When you hit drugs, when you neutralize the drug problems, it follows that criminality rates will go down. So (you are) hitting two birds [with] one stone,” Dela Rosa explained.
While the government may be celebrating the rise of fatalities as an indication of their impending victory, many others are alarmed by the number of drug-related casualties.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Chito Gascon said that the current data is already higher than the recorded death during the first year of martial law.
Duterte has also managed to lock horns with officials of the United States, European Union and the United Nations, who criticize his leaderships because of possible human rights violations in his anti-drug campaign.
The government can’t win this war alone. If alternatives are not considered now, a lasting solution may never be possible. This is a war with many fronts and needs engagement from both the government and civil society. It also requires a strategy that will weaken criminal organizations, reconstruct law enforcement institutions, and improve the judicial system. (AJPress)