Historian: war against drugs is a ‘lost war’ 

Sep. 21, 2016

Filipino Professor Vicente Rafael of the University of Washington says the Duterte administration’s war on drugs has opened business opportunities for vigilantes and paid killers. Rafael was one of the speakers during the forum dubbed Translating Digong at the University of the Philippines Mindanao on Monday, September 19, 2016. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

by Charlotte Dominique Cubero, Contributor

DAVAO CITY — A historian and a professor of University of Washington said the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is “a lost war”.

“It’s a war being waged primarily by the police…You are using a very corrupt institution to root out one of the symptoms of corruption,” Prof. Vicente Rafael said in a forum at UP Mindanao Monday, September 20.

He said that the war on drugs has created new openings and business opportunities for vigilantes and paid killers.

“They simply just can’t keep up with the demand there’s so much money to be made in killing,” he said.

More than 3,000 drug suspects were killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said that 1,140 drug personalities were killed nationwide from July 1 to September 18 this year. Meanwhile, the PNP said there are 1,391 cases of suspected drug pushers and users killed by unidentified assailants which are “under investigation”.

The PNP also reported that 17,319 drug personalities were arrested in 18,832 police operations over the same period following the agency’s Oplan Double Barrel which targets both drug pushers.

But the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said a report from the PNP sent to the PCIJ recorded a total of 1,445 persons killed in police operations; 15,762 arrested (6,948 alleged drug users and 8,814 alleged drug pushers); and 704,074 who “surrendered” (652,309 alleged drug users and 51,765 alleged drug pushers) from  July 1 to September 8, 2016.

“Even if drugs are taken away from the country, what are your going to do with these forces that you’ve released? You can’t just put the genie back in the bottle.”

Rafael also said that the war drugs has led to the decreasing supply of shabu, prompting price increase. This, along with the elimination of small-time dealers has opened up the market for foreign direct investments especially from China. “The very country that Duterte wants to be a close ally is also one of the biggest suppliers of shabu in the country,” Rafael said. “It’s already a self-defeating war in many ways”, Rafael said.

Rafael said the administration should highlight that the root cause of the drug problem is poverty.

“The root of the problem is poverty. It would be nice if he could highlight that while he’s fighting against drugs, he’s also fighting against poverty,” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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