- The Resurgent Staff
Stubbornly ignorant notions of the drug war
Appraising the reality of today's drug war, the Resurgent staff has put together some key observations behind the shrill headlines:
1. The audacity of deniers. These are the people who believe that the drug problem isn't as bad as it is reported.
Browsing through our social media feed, we see that a some people still delude themselves that the drug menace is not one of crisis proportions, even as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reports that in Metro Manila alone, 92% of barangays have been drug infested since 2015.
2. The belief that it's all politics. There are those who say that the crackdown on drugs is only meant to push an agenda of fear and submission to a "dictator."
Perhaps it would be better to see the other side of this coin: Whose agenda is helped by challenging the drug war? The drug lords? Their protectors? What's barely written about is that in many communities, drug lords dominate local politics with barangay council seats, forming a protective shield against scrutiny and enforcement.
3. The bullheadedness to undercut government efforts. Some quarters have called on government and international organizations to stop the drug war. Even erstwhile United Nations "raporteur" Agnes Callamard has presumptuously weighed in on the campaign, calling for an end to it.
Given the gravity of the narco situation, the need to evaluate the widespread crackdown ought to help us know whether it is achieving its objectives, that drug prevalence and crime are indeed dropping significantly. Any suggestion to end it outright ignores facts and crime statistics showing a reduction in index crimes as a whole.
4. The naive and dangerous notion that shabu is merely a "health problem."
Some critics given to "intellectualizing" like to share aticles about the so-called Portuguese solution, which involves decriminalizing drug use and handing out substitiutes to help sufferers kick the habit. The truth about this approach is that it is meant for heroin, Portugal's drug of choice, mainly shot through shared needles, making the use of this drug a vector for the spread of HIV.
Thus, the health "solution" was meant to lower HIV transmission rates. It was the effect of heroin addiction on behaviors that cause disease, not crime, which prompted the health solution. Reports indicate that drug abuse prevalence, as a whole, remained the same.
Moreover, heroin is a depressant that lowers psychological awareness and encourages risky sexual behavior and invariably does not lead to crime, unlike shabu which, as a stimulant, causes criminal behavior like the rape of daughters, minors, and the elderly.
Thus, controlling shabu also helps curb crime. It is a crime problem, not a health issue.
5. That it's all about killing. In an earlier article, Resurgent contributor John Tria discussed the fact that the 7,000 or so figure quoted by the drug war's oppositors are not the same as the 2,000 or so drug "kills" among the million surenderees. The impression created that the drug war is a cover for "mass murder" is therefore a ruse with heavy political undertones against government.
6. That it has created a climate of fear. Vice President Leni Robredo's videotaped speech before a United Nations side meeting draws heavily on this misleading narrative. Surveys like the ones done by the Social Weather Stations in December show that among those polled, 8 in 10 believe that drug use and trafficking have gone down in their communities, and a recent Pulse Asia survey shows that 82% of Metro Manilans believe that they feel safer now with the unrelenting crackdown on drugs.
7. That drug pushers suddenly look like Christ. Devils can disguise themselves as angels, so the saying goes. Mainstream media outlets love to tug at the heartstrings of the gullible, and the Pieta pose of a wife hugging her dead drug suspect of a husband has gained sympathy for drug dealers. Among some, they will probably be declared a protected species and edified as martyrs. The Bad has become the Good.
This has become a moral scandal.
In the end, curbing drug abuse and trade will be difficult, but shrugging our shoulders to say that the drug problem can never be solved is about the same as copping out, and reversing the gains already made. Yes, there have been modest gains. And if the news media can't see it, the people can.