|Phoo from Reuters India|
Commentary of an Academic
(Copyright @ 2017 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).
The successive deaths of teenagers in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs endorsed the iota that there is something wrong with the method of his most controversial banner policy. On the other hand, while Filipino soldiers are still combating jihadi terrorists in Marawi City, there are pieces of evidence that would link violent conflicts in Mindanao to narcoterrroism. In contextualizing the broad situations of this debatable policy, how should the government rethink the war on drugs and why there is substantive connection of narcoterrroism to the current siege in southern Philippines?
These two different conditions in the continuing War on Drugs are retributions to the existing norms of the campaign to eliminate illegal drugs in the Philippines through the Project “Double Barrel” that connotes a two-pronged approach, project Tokhang (lower barrel approach) and project High Value Target (lower barrel approach) that aim at attaining utopian drug-free communities across the country.
By rethinking the methods to halt the carnage of innocent young lives demand reframing the objectives of the campaign; that the double-barrel strategy should not mean attacking the problem against suspected drugs lords or drug addicts on the level of the street, pushing simultaneously. It should no longer be described as a policy equated to a double-barreled shotgun that can fire two rounds with a single pull of the trigger. Such reframing of method should consider the social and medical dimensions of it and not solely as crime deterrence. Hence, institutionalizing an anti-drug campaign pushes for interagency cooperation that needs serious policymaking and rigid methods in protecting the asymmetrical rights of the law enforcers and the felony.
The right to health extends the guarantee that human rights comes as a primary obligation of the state. It is realized when the government supports facilities, equipment and rehabilitation to drug dependents. A drugged nation remains a weak and defeated nation. This malignant phenomenon tells the existence of a shadow economy whose nature may jeopardize a nations’ safety and security that draw from the real existence of the core problem. Certainly drug abuse strains family relationships and ultimately making families dysfunctional; transforming families from an asset of society into a burden.
In this case, 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 the curriculum of secondary education as explicitly constituted in the Philippine Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act must be conscientiously be 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.
On the other hand, weak governance structures and institutions in Mindanao, notwithstanding the loopholes of the Dangerous Drugs Act are making it easy for alleged terrorists and drug lords to connive and sow conflict or navigate the perimeters of narcotics’ shadow economy. This sudden act of defiance from interest groups in the changing game plays of Philippines politics are as well manifestations of the prevailing narcopolitics and triads. In this case, drug lords cannot make a scene because they may be identified by authorities; however, they can connive with terrorists or criminals by funding terrorist activities to spread chaos. In other words, drug cartels can buy protection, political support at every level of government and society.
The Philippine government should be strategic and proactive on its War on Drugs in its solid campaign to address the social cancer of narcotics which other nation-states may have already considered a hopeless case. It should be responsive to the changing times by amplifying constructive mechanisms to address the complex problems of illegal drugs. In addressing the violence associated with narcoterrorism, there must be integrative and inclusive national policy to address religious dichotomy to eliminate enmity and stereotype between religious factions associated with illegal drugs.
Intensive efforts to crystallize cloudy policies on the War on Drugs should be given a priority. The abrupt 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 conditions of prisons in the country. Hence, the ramifications of the War on Drugs 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.