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Ending the War on Drugs Saves Lives

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano on Tuesday told the UN Human Rights Council that the deadly war on drugs was meant to save Filipino lives from the scourge of illegal drugs. He thinks the world is hearing this for the first time. But the same argument was also used by a dictator forty years ago, except at that time, it was to save the country from “communists”.

Cayetano’s feigned alarm about the Philippines turning into a narco-state started with 1.8 million drug users according to the Dangerous Drugs Board (2015), then increased to 4 million within President Duterte’s first year in office; new players have joined the illegal drugs trade in Cebu [1]; drug trade by the Muntinlupa prison drug lords have resumed [2]; the president’s son has been linked to a new shipment of P6.4 billion worth of shabu; and the drug related charges against an opposition Senator who is in prison have been downgraded for lack of evidence. [3]

What has the drug war solved? What was accomplished apart from the extrajudicial killing of thousands of poor Filipinos, a good many among them innocent children, substitute hits, and mistaken identities?

President Duterte kept moving the deadline of his triumph over illegal drugs, only to admit in 2017 that he cannot do so [4] in the six year term he is given. Thus exposed is the real agenda of the Duterte Presidency and its necessary brutal campaign of terror and annihilation of our democratic institutions and processes. The war on drugs does not save the lives of Filipinos; it ushers in Duterte’s authoritarian ambitions over a terrorized population.

As Cayetano continues to defend the drug war, crimes against humanity becomes even more officially sanctioned by the state. These pronouncements are crucial evidence for possible future litigation against him and the President: a global indictment that we hope would come sooner than later in order to force an end to this failed war on drugs--for that would certainly save lives.