In the United States, if you are suspected of using or dealing drugs chances are you will be investigated or possibly arrested.
In the Philippines; however, you may face a fate much worse than jail time. One may come face to face with death. Since May of 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has enforced a strict ‘War on Drugs’ campaign. Instead of investigating, police and hired forces are shooting and killing suspects in the streets of the Philippines.
There have been 5,927 deaths linked to the “War on Drugs” in the Philippines since July 1, 2016 according to statistics released by the national police. Women, men, and teenagers alike have been left for dead in the streets Philippines. Not only that, but they’ve been physically labeled as addicts or dealers after their deaths.
The death toll continues to rise, creating a growing feeling of fear and helplessness in the hearts of many Filipino citizens. So far, 2,086 were killed in police operations and 3,841 in extrajudicial style killings (government executions without the benefit of judicial proceedings).
Treatment programs have been established, but those who have sought help have not always returned home. President Rodrigo Duterte plans to build four more main treatment centers through a public-private partnership. The treatment programs are meant to serve as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers; however, according to many, these programs are set up to kill and expose more addicts and dealers. Even the main website for rehab centers in the Philippines recommends citizens to seek help elsewhere. The site states:
Update Sept. 27, 2016 **IMPORTANT NOTE: Unfortunately there are no private inpatient drug & alcohol treatment centers in the Philippines that we are now willing to recommend. In our opinion with the present government we recommend that clients go to Thailand for your own safety.
I agree that certain drugs are extremely dangerous and should be illegal. In my opinion, the punishment set in place by President Duterte is a terrible idea. These people are stripped of not only their lives, but their rights as well. Some of the suspects may even be innocent; however, we’ll never know because they are never given a fair chance to present their case.
U.S President-elect Donald Trump has spoken with President Duterte via phone. According to Duterte, Trump congratulated him on his efforts to halt the drug problem in the Philippines while accepting praise from Duterte on his new position as President of the United States. In an article published by NBC, “Trump endorsed his [Duterte] campaign against drug users and dealers — a campaign that has left at least 4,500 Filipinos dead in about five months. Trump told Duterte that he was doing it the ‘right way.'” Trump’s campaign members stated that the phone call simply consisted of Duterte congratulating Trump on his new position in office. While it is unclear what was officially said during this phone call, it is important to shed light on the War on Drugs in the Philippines.
Both those who live in the Philippines and those who have escaped the country continue to live in fear. While the country is beautiful and full of culture, it is also a nesting place for destruction and despair. The Philippines continues to suffer from sex trafficking, poverty, government corruption, and now the War on Drugs.