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State of the war against drugs

There is no doubt or dispute that President Duterte is the first President who has openly, aggressively and persistently pursued the “war” against dangerous drugs. This is indeed one of the most welcome changes when he assumed office especially because a great majority of Filipinos know the pernicious and evil effects of dangerous drugs in our society.

In its proper perspective, this “war” is nothing more than the strict enforcement of Republic Act No. 6425 otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 which penalizes the “importation, sale, administration, delivery, distribution, transportation, possession, cultivation and use of prohibited and regulated drugs enumerated therein. Said law likewise penalizes the maintenance of a Den, Dive or Resort for the said Dangerous Drugs.

In this connection, it must be pointed out that violators of said law may be classified into two groups: the “pusher” and the “user.” The pusher refer to any person who sells, administers, delivers or gives away to another, or distributes, dispatches in transit, or transports any dangerous drug or who acts as broker in any of such transactions (Please refer to Articles I, II and III of R.A. 6425). User is the one who injects intravenously or intramuscularly, or consumes either by chewing, smoking, sniffing, eating, swallowing, drinking or otherwise introducing into the physiological system of the body, any of the dangerous drugs (Please see Section 2, Article I)

Based on above definition, it is interesting to note that the real and more dangerous violators of the law are the so called “pushers.” Without them, there will be no dangerous drugs that will be available for the “users.” So in effect, the users are mere victims who may have been forced to use these drugs obviously because of their intoxicating effects that somehow enable them to forget or disregard their numerous problems in life especially due to extreme poverty.

To carry out and achieve the purposes of R.A. 6425, a Dangerous Drugs Board has been created by said Republic Act composed of the Secretaries of the Department of Health, Justice, National Defense, Education, Finance, Social Services and Local Government as ex-officio members. Of course the lead government agency charged with the enforcement of the law is the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) with the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) whose main function is actually to enforce the laws of the country.

Viewed in its proper and correct perspective, the on-going “war” against dangerous being undertaken by Duterte and his administration really needs some review, reconsideration and revision. First of all, they should not consider the users as the real “enemies.” From another point of view, they are a lot more like “victims” who simply succumbed to use dangerous drugs due to unfavorable circumstances in life particularly poverty. So this war can be more likely won if the President will first concentrate in solving poverty in our land by an all inclusive and sustainable economic growth and progressive actions. Perhaps he could also aggressively push his war against corruption which is one of the main causes of poverty.

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Secondly, the administration should focus their attention more on the “pushers” rather than the “users” of dangerous drugs.  And these pushers are those who are commonly known as “Drug Lords.” People are really quite intrigued and somewhat wondering why this administration is focusing their attention more on the users who mostly belong to the marginalized sector in our society. Since it embarked on this “war” and launched the “Oplan Tokhang” thousands of poor people have been killed in this operation, through “extrajudicial killings” (EJKs). To be sure, this phrase has become so popular and often used only during these times. More intriguing here is that except for a few, like Leyte Mayor Espinosa who was killed inside the jail, no drug lords have been victims of these EJKs.

Also quite noticeable in this regard is that since the PDEA substituted for the PNP as the lead agency in this “war,” the EJKs have somehow diminished and even eliminated. There are no more daily news reports of quite a number of poor people killed as PDEA appears to be concentrating more in apprehending and eliminating the big time drug lords who are undoubtedly the main culprits in this dangerous drug problem besetting our country. The strategic shift in this war since PDEA took over as the lead government agency is indeed quite encouraging.

Unfortunately, even as PDEA seems to be doing a better job, and as the killings have apparently ceased or considerably reduced, Duterte has again changed his mind and has called back the PNP to participate in the war. This change in strategy again somehow gives rise to some speculation and ugly talks that the administration appears to be favoring the drug lords as it would not like PDEA to concentrate against them. Foremost in their minds right now is the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China where nobody has been charged yet up to now. Hopefully such ugly conclusions are really false and baseless.

And so, even as Duterte appears bent on waging this “war” even going to the extent of repeatedly and “jokingly” or “seriously” announcing in public that he will resign if he fails in this war, he must have to take more decisive and sincere moves instead of just extending and extending the deadline for his resignation if he will not successfully solve the problem. The best way to show his earnestness and achieve success here is to always bear in mind that the “end does not justify the means.”

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

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