Friday, June 30, 2017

A year of living in War on Drugs: Fillennials under Duterte’s imagined drug-free nation

Photo from The Atlantic
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 

(Copyright @ 2017 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

The common notion that millennials around the world share the same youth culture might be somewhat germane to illustrate the Philippines. However the Fillennials or Filipino millennials who are social media junkies diverge from other millennials in a sense that their hopes and dreams are still shaped by its own culture and society. Painting a Disney imagery, they embody optimism, career-driven aptitude, and known for their self-entitlements.

Borrowing Professor Ky Hayes’s definition of the millennial, they are those born between 1980s and expanding even to those born in the early 2000s with ages ranging from 18-34. It is incontestable that this diverse generation floods the cyberspace as the harbingers in the “Information Age” and “Digital Era”.

Ascribed as tech-savvy cohort caters their motivated skills to be socially-aware as they were exposed to significant societal changes globally at the peak of globalism, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the internet age. Being civic-minded, millennials highly value work and lifestyle by standing multi-tasking and team-oriented which draws flak from other generations despite being tagged as self-centered and ambitious.

To identify the existence of a “millennial culture” in the Philippines requires the assumption that a “millennial generation” exists along with an indicative unique set of values, habits, and attitudes that its members demonstrate.

The Philippines’ transformation into a narco-state was created by its own history when its ancestors betel chewed in 1521, opium was banned in 1908, marijuana prevailed in 1954 but by choice preferred as illegal drugs among Filipinos since the Martial Law in 1972, shabu users surfaced in Manila in 1983 and reached its peak in 2004, but since 2002 the Dangerous Drugs Board reported that there were 5.8 million drug users in the country, and a decade after, the Philippines turned out having the highest rate of shabu addicts in East Asia. 

Regrettably, there are almost four million illegal drug dependents in the country, majority are concentrated in big cities, albeit not situated in one contiguous area but spread throughout the entire country.

Policy-making worldwide is increasingly evidence-based. The same should be applied to the Philippines current drug policy. Two schools of thought are challenging Duterte’s banner program on the war on drugs (WOD), whether it is crime deterrence or health and social problem.

Almost a year after his inaugural speech as the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, he boldly crashed the world as he doggedly executed his controversial campaign against illegal drugs called Project “Double Barrel” that connotes a two-pronged approach, namely, project Tokhang (lower barrel approach) and project High Value Target (upper barrel approach),  spearheaded by the Philippine National Police, aimed at attaining utopian drug-free communities across the country .

His prime advocacy of “real change” more so intensified his WOD campaign receiving a mixed support from newly installed world leaders while he defied global human rights watchdogs as the international community witnessed alarming rate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The sudden constructions of treatment and rehabilitation centers and the lack of it ensured preponderance of political aid that questioned a posteriori human rights issue. And those who either voluntarily or involuntarily surrendered to law enforcers add to the harrowing condition of prisons in the country. 

In terms of substance abuse among Fillennials, alarmingly the 15-19 years old group who has claimed of drug use is mostly males than females while those undergoing rehabilitation belong to the age group of 25-29 years old totaling to about 2.1million Fillennials engrossed to substance abuse since 1997.

Their experimental behaviors include smoking, drinking, and using drugs leading to mental and neurological disorders while some spend their productive years of their life behind bars with hardcore lawless adults. In effect, the magnitude of drug use problem among the youth impacts the productivity of the workforce linking unemployment and drug-taking habits among drugged millennials.  

Correlating the youth’s digital dependence and drug addiction, these can be manifested by the distorted image of the adolescent relationships to the social environment much produced by consumerism, and faint personal and family values.   

Given the drug policy’s messianic complex against a malignant phenomenon, gradually offsetting a relentless dream encompassing suppression, prosecution and rehabilitation in a holistic manner; the failed vision botched inadequacy of serious policy-making and rigid methods that protects the asymmetrical rights of the felony and the victims.

The bloody war on drugs besets wars on poor people, the youth, and crime busters who lost the appetite of seeing the real picture and turning a blind eye about a genuine social dilemma depriving a person of life, liberty and property.  

If WOD is framed as a social and medical issue, transpotting from the odd view as crime deterrence with a scar face caused by narco-politics and narco-terrorism, it must be institutionalized as an anti-drug campaign to push for inter-agency cooperation, a primus inter pares among government agencies to second the motion as a national security threat.  

Unconditional surrender program for users and peddlers must be encouraged augmenting a well-financed management of voluntary submission for drug pushers and rehabilitated users. Mainstreaming of drug education in curriculum of secondary education as explicitly constituted in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act must be properly supported and implemented. There should be a comprehensive plan for long/medium/ and short term anti-drug operations to formalize the Project Double Barrel’s procedures with a maximum end of safeguarding human rights.

Ultimately the ramifications of WOD can be overturned, despite its long term end of reducing drug supply or reducing drug demand, if methods are lawfully accomplished and the good intent ensures public safety and internal security.      

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