Duterte must minimize drug efforts

The drug epidemic in the Philippines began in 1972 when over 20,000 people had started using marijuana. Various pieces of legislation against drugs were passed in an attempt to curb the issue.

Since then, the epidemic has become a pivotal political point. Rodrigo Duterte, the elected president of the Philippines, has promised to end the war on drugs and has issued out a concrete plan in order to achieve it. His triumph in the election and intentions have brought much joy to the people of the Philippines.

Duterte has given passes to otherwise inhumane activities in order to curb the current drug epidemic. Not only are officials killing people accused of being involved with drugs, but citizens are also given the power to do so along with rewards.

Within only seven weeks into his office, 712 people have been killed by police operations and 1,067 have been killed at the hands of citizens. Rewards have also been put into place for officers who were particularly efficient at catching drug users. Because of this system, police officers were more likely to exhibit corruption, which creates bias and the rise of unfair and difficult situations.

There have been 10,153 drug-related arrests and over 600,000 suspects have given themselves in to authorities. These drug-related arrests could easily have been just accusations made by officers who cared more about receiving the benefit of the incentive as opposed to being fair and doing the right thing.

As for the number of suspects, many people grew paranoid that they would be caught and killed. It is not good for a country’s government to instill this kind of fear in its citizens.

The amount of shootings have gotten so out of control that many Philippine citizens are starting to fear for their lives. Accusations of drug possession do not follow a judicial process of investigation that ensures that those accused are indeed guilty of the crime.

Duterte loathes drugs and he has made that conviction clear. He shows no empathy for those who have fallen to unfortunate drug addiction.

Drug addiction is a psychological problem that many people have been able to overcome. These are normal people who deserve a second chance to make their lives meaningful again. However, Duterte refuses to acknowledge any of these points and has asked police officers and vigilantes to kill drug addicts as well.

The United Nations aims to bring peace and to interfere with any nation that violates the rights of its citizenry. It has seen that simply killing people will not solve the problem.

Everyone deserves a legal and fair way to justice. In particular, clemency should be shown because people with drug addictions also have families.

Duterte has threatened to withdraw from the United Nations if it keeps asking him to stop the killings. Duterte has taken the war on drugs very personally and it seems as though he feels that if he does not kill everyone associated with drugs, his ego will be hurt.

He has put his focus on drugs while the country suffers of endemic corruption, poverty, abuse of rights, impunity and poor health. He has even cut the country’s budget for health to use for the war against drugs.

Drugs have the ability to damage people considerably. Their use destroys families and relationships on a psychological, emotional and financial level.

It is a problem that needs to be solved from its roots. Drug lords in charge of the production and distribution of drugs deserve to be punished for their crime since it  causes great destruction. Murdering people, however, is the easy way out. It is also the more inhumane alternative.

Those accused of being involved with drugs deserve a fair process of investigation to prove that they are guilty, which should also be accompanied by a prosecution. The Philippines claims to be a democratic nation, but with no interference from the legislative and judicial branch, it is starting to look like totalitarian regime.