Drug abuse is a curse that has touched – and harmed – the lives of families across the globe. Few can say they have no friends or family members unaffected by its ravages.
I hate drugs! I am one of those who has family members that have fallen into the wretched loss of reason and self-control that is addiction.
And they have paid the price, in different ways.
None of that is to say that if someone becomes addicted to substances, it’s out of their hands, or that they were the victim of circumstances. I don’t make excuses for them. They owned it the minute they took that first toke, or that first drink. It was on them to think about their future and say, “No!”
I tell you this as a precursor to this piece about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Since Duterte took office in June of 2016, he has found himself firmly in the sights of human rights advocates, mainly because of his endorsement of the extrajudicial killing of drug dealers and drug users.
Even before being elected, Duterte’s rhetoric on those profiting from or abusing drugs was unusually harsh.
Duterte’s outspoken vow to embark on a nationwide killing campaign against drug dealers and drug users was the foundation of his presidential electoral platform. During a campaign rally on March 15, 2016, for example, he stated: “When I become president, I will order the police to find those people [dealing or using drugs] and kill them. The funeral parlors will be packed.”
Following his election, Duterte continued to state unequivocally that his anti-drug campaign would focus on killing drug dealers and users. Speaking in Davao City on June 4, he stated: “If you are still into drugs, I am going to kill you. Don’t take this as a joke. I’m not trying to make you laugh. Sons of b*tches, I’ll really kill you.”
And shortly after winning the election, he had this to say:
“My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.” He praised the soaring body count of victims of police killings as proof of the “success” of his “war on drugs.”
In fact, the numbers of those killed since Duterte’s election, either by police or vigilantes, and between June 30, 2016 (when he was elected) to March 2017 has risen to over 7,000 Philippine citizens.
Most of the citizens are from very poor, rural areas, and while Duterte has claimed the raids mostly target drug dealers, it’s those who are at least suspected of using who seem to make up the bulk of victims.
As I’ve said, I detest drugs. I detest those who deal in the misery of others by pushing drugs, and I hate what it does to families, while enslaving the souls of those who fall to addiction.
I do not support killing them in the streets.
So how far would President Duterte go in his drive to live up to his pre-election hype against the drug trade?
He’d go as far as to murder his own children, according to him.
“Ang order ko nga noon na pag may anak ako na sa droga, patayin niyo para walang masabi ang tao (My order then is if any of my children are into drugs, kill them so that the public can’t criticize us),” the president said during the awarding of outstanding government workers in Malacañang.
“Ang sabi ko kay (I told) Pulong my order is to kill you if you are caught and I will protect the police who will kill you,” he added, referring to his son by his nickname.
Duterte was responding to a recent rumor that his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law, Manases Carpio, were involved in bringing in methamphetamines from China.
The two were tied by broker Mark Taguba to a “Davao group,” which he said, is involved in smuggling at the Customs. The younger Duterte and Carpio have denied the accusations. Taguba, later on, admitted that the allegations against them were just hearsay.
Admitting it was hearsay may be the only thing keeping the younger Duterte alive now, if his father is serious with what he said.
It’s not new talk for President Duterte. Before winning the election, he voiced his conviction in a debate.
“None (of my children are into illegal drugs). But my order is, even if it is a member of my family, ‘kill him’,” Duterte, then the mayor of Davao City, said.
I can’t imagine breathing that against any of my family members who are or have been in the throes of addiction.
“I, as President, when I go after organized crime, and the law states everyone. No one should be favored,” he said.
“I am a prosecutor When I prosecute, I prosecute all. Sauce for the gander, sauce for the goose.”
And while I applaud his stated commitment to impartiality, I shudder to think of the terror some citizens must feel, faced with the prospect of death hanging over their heads, should they be fingered as potential drug dealers or users by vigilantes or overzealous police officers.
While we pray for those here, our families and friends who are affected by the drug epidemic, say a prayer for the people of the Philippines, as well.
They’re apparently under the leadership of a mad man.