In less than two weeks, more than a hundred alleged drug
pushers and petty drug traffickers were killed in the war against drugs called
by the RodyDuterte government.
Some of the killings were undertaken by the police after the
arrests or surrender of alleged drug pushers and dealers. These killings were
purportedly undertaken in self-defense by the police whose guns were grabbed by
the suspects. More alleged drug lords and pushers were victims of 'salvaging'
or extra-judicial killings undertaken by unknown groups or forces.
The killings are generally aimed at the drug traffickers in
the community who constitute the lower rung of the drug syndicate in the
country. The victims are mostly poor people who are forced by poverty to engage
in petty drug dealing in the community.
The ‘terror effect’ intended against the drug syndicate is
already terrorizing and disempowering a number of communities in the country.
It is also nibbling away at the base of President Duterte’s popular support in
these communities. We do not believe that this type of operation is a winning
strategy to win the war against drugs.
The Duterte government should use all its forces to stop the
killings of alleged drug pushers and petty drug ‘lords’ as this constitutes a
grave violation of human rights and aggravates the peace and order
situation in the country. The killings open up the floodgates of gangland
execution that cannot be controlled by anyone, including the state agencies.
The government has to strike at the crown of the hydra-headed
drugs syndicate instead at snipping away its tentacles at the community-level
which is a bloody, messy strategy.
This is why we welcome President Duterte's recent acts of
publicly naming police generals, government officials, and top drug dealers as
coddlers and henchmen of the drug syndicates. The President’s attempts to go
after the generals and the top henchmen of the drugs trade demonstrates that he
is committed to addressing the problem of criminality and social decay in the
We take note, however, that the poor people in the lower
rung of the syndicates have already ended up killed and salvaged, while the top
henchmen named by the President stay loose and have not been prosecuted. The
President could start by prosecuting by full force of the law those who have
been named as top drug lords and protectors.
As shown by the President’s exposé, we believe that the PNP
has become a source of the drug problem in the country. The PNP needs to be
cleaned up and transformed from being a protector of the big drug syndicate to
a protector of the people.
In this regard, we call on the President to set up an
independent inquiry into the role of the PNP in the drug trade, with the view
of weeding out the hooligans from the good ones. It is crucial that the
government mobilize and empower the communities and win their support and
active participation in the campaign against drugs. The barangays and the
community organizations with long record of service to the community can join
hands to protect peace and order and the rights of every person in the
Lastly, if the President is intent on winning the war
against drugs, the best strategy is not just about strengthening police actions
or striking at the criminals in the streets. Poverty is at the very roots of
the problem. To win the war against drugs, President Duterte should enhance his
poverty eradication program by implementing such measures that do away with the
neoliberal policies of the previous governments, provide jobs for all, stamp
out contractualization, implement genuine agrarian reform, and others.