The Philippines War on Drugs

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The Philippine Drug War also known as the  "War on Drugs" is basically the drug policy followed by Philippine government implemented their President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte came into power on June 30, 2016.The drug policy's goal is to neutralize the illegal drug personalities nationwide. The president encouraged and continues to encourage citizens to kill either suspected criminals and/or drug addicts. Police almost daily kill unarmed people who they believe are suspects, and then they proceed to place guns or drugs or other illegal items at the crime scene to make it seem legit. When asked by media and reporters, Philippine authorities deny any police misconduct. The  drug policy has its share of criticism. The criticism comes from the local and national level because of the number of deaths that have happened because of the way the police operate. The drug policy is however supported by a large majority of the public and local citizens. Leaders and/or representatives in China, Japan and the United States also support this policy as well.


Currently, the two dominant drugs used in the Philippines are a variant of methamphetamine, which they call shabu, and marijuana. According to a 2012 United Nations report, the Philippines had the highest rate of methamphetamine abuse. This report showed that 2.2% of Filipinos between sixteen and sixty-four used one of this two drugs at least once in their lifetime. At the time, Rodrigo Duterte was a mayor of one of the largest cities in the Philippines, Davao. In this region, abuse of methamphetamine was at its peak. He believed that fighting against drugs on a regional level wasn't enough to make a difference, which is why he decided to run for the president. Rodrigo Duterte has won the presidential race, and on June 30th 2016, he became the president of the Philippines. As soon as he became the president, the war on drugs was launched.


Rodrigo Duterte believed that drug dealing and addiction were two major obstacles to the Philippines economic and social progress. In one of his speeches, he tried to encourage people by saying go ahead and kill, which unfortunately turned out not being the wisest choice of words. Namely, this has encouraged people to endorse violence and to purposely go and kill drug dealers and addicts. This has resulted in large number of deaths. By December 2016, nearly 4000 people has been killed because people felt it is justified to kill drug dealers, and 2000 people died in police operations. Also, 500,000 to 700,000 people willingly turned themselves in to the police to avoid the same destiny, and 40,000 people have been arrested by the police. When we think about this large group of people, we have to realize that very few of them get life sentence, which means that almost all of them will re-enter our society at one point. Unfortunately, in countries such as the Philippines, prison systems work in a way that they expect the prisoners to eventually come back to the prison. The reason why they do is because prisons do not offer good education, if any, or give any social skills prisoners can use to start over. With this being said, it is only a matter of time when they will turn back to being criminals. This leads to another outcome of the drug war and it is money. To maintain such large prison population, a lot of money is needed.


Also, to fight against drugs, a lot of money needs to be spent and this still doesn't promise the situation will get any better. So what happens with the public? How do they react to drug wars? Namely, in the October 2016, a nationwide survey on presidential performance and trust showed that 86% of the Filipinos supported Duterte's presidential policy. However, this survey was based on his performance concerning economic and social inequality, which he did a great job focusing on. Apart from this, a lot of people showed concern about killings, and violation of human rights during the process of fighting against drugs. Also, many killings couldn't be proven that a drug dealer has been killed, and not just another innocent person, a lot of people arrested also didn't get the chance to prove their innocence on the court, instead they were just thrown to jail.

        The Philippines has had a history of political and social inconsistencies that has led to their current state. Going back to 1898 the U.S. gained control of the islands after their victory during the Spanish-American War. From that point on the U.S. has made efforts to westernize and modernize the country and bring them closer to independence. Things changed when the Japanese gained the territory in 1941 as a result of World War II. Eventually, about 7 years later, the U.S. re-gained the Philippines and declared them independent. It was then that they also elected their first president. It's obvious that the Philippines is a relatively new country which also contributes to the context of this war on drugs.


There was also another pivotal moment in the Philippines' history of social injustices in 1972. The current president implemented a law called Martial Law. The period was notable with a lot of human rights abuse and violence. Martial law is the use of direct military force in citizen's normal functions. It was a time full of corruption and civilians were not pleased with the law enforcement and government officials which broke into protests and riots. This was just another event on the timeline of the Philippines' history that brought them to the social issues they face today.


The current President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte is a very influencing component in the war. When he came into office, he immediately addressed this issue on drug use and thought it was a very prevalent dilemma in the country. This is when the war on drugs officially began. Almost 4000 drug users or dealers were killed by policemen in the span of just over a year. This was not including the unidentified gunmen who brought the total to 12000 civilians. There is no way to determine whether or not these people were truly associated with drugs or if they were completely innocent, and that's the problem. It really brings the death total into perspective when it can be noted that only 68 people had died due to police in the country prior the Duterte's election.


Although very significant, Duterte isn't the only factor that comes into play when addressing the war on drugs. The Philippines is composed of many small islands, which makes it quite difficult to patrol borders. The ease at which goods can get in and out of country is a major influence. There's also other things like poverty level. It was noted that in 2015 that 21.6% of the population was at the poverty level. All these factors mixed with the instability and inconsistencies with the countries political systems as well as laws and enforcements, creates a perfect social disaster the Philippines has succumbed to.


The war on drugs has led to over 12,000 deaths of Filipinos. Most of the victims were poor urban citizens. A large percentage of the deaths are the responsibility of the Philippine Police. Many of the killings are being justified by presenting false evidence and the president has no intent of repealing the er.policy eith

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The Philippines War On Drugs. (2019, Jul 26). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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