Pubdate: Fri, 19 Aug 2016
Source: Sun.Star Cebu (Philippines)
Copyright: 2016 Sun.Star


(The following are excerpts from the "Position Paper on 
Extra-Judicial Killings As Means in the 'War on Drugs'" by the Center 
for Governance, Leadership and Development of the Department of 
Political Science of the University of San Carlos)

While the campaign against illegal drugs is a fight we all share, the 
relentless killings of persons allegedly linked to the illegal drug 
trade has raised an important question that every Filipino, 
regardless of social status, education, political beliefs, or 
religious affiliation, ought to confront: Are we doing this right?

The drug menace in the country is not something we can close our eyes 
to. It is real, it is happening. Data from the Philippine Drug 
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) show that around 20.51 percent or 8,629 
villages out of the 42,065 barangays nationwide have drug-related cases

A report by the United Nations also found that the Philippines has 
the highest abuse rate for methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, 
in East Asia.

We are aware of the gravity of the problem; the kind that makes it so 
tempting to resort to means that place in jeopardy the foundations of 
our country and our people. But we stand firm and we remain with ways 
that uphold the rule of law and the dignity of every human person.

The killing of persons accused of crimes without being afforded her 
or his basic constitutional rights such as presumption of innocence 
and due process is no way acceptable nor agreeable.

Our government is not a government of men, but a government of laws. 
Our systems and our institutions were purposely created to promote 
the welfare of our people as we tirelessly strive to achieve 
progress, justice, equality, and peace.

The fundamental law of the land has placed mechanisms and limitations 
to ensure that in the exercise of governmental power, every person is 
protected of her or his rights, liberties, and freedoms.

It is incumbent upon us, as moral obligation, that all these hopes 
and all the aspirations espoused in our laws, in our institutions, 
and in our systems are realized and not left for naught.

We cannot abandon our laws nor can we compromise our principles for 
apparent and momentary convenience, for shortcuts, or for an easy way out.

The drug problem is multifaceted in nature  it is not a sheer peace 
and order issue. It has socioeconomic, public health, cultural, and 
political roots and dimensions that require, equally, a response from 
government and civil society that is sensitive to and anchored on its 
many facets and dimensions.

Hence, the "war on drugs" that focuses heavily on punitive ways is in 
no way sufficient and effective.

The experiences of countries such as the United States and Mexico 
perfectly illustrate that the problem is not as simple as 
incarcerating or exterminating the people involved in it.

No purely retributive policies on the 'war on drugs' have ever 
succeeded in history. Hundreds and thousands of lives have been 
claimed, but the drug problem still pervades.

Like the Philippines, Portugal initially waged the bloody war against 
drugs by going after drug cartels, syndicates, and its elements. But 
Portugal saw no progress in this kind of fight against illegal drugs.

Significant breakthroughs have only been seen since it 
institutionalized important policy reforms.

Levels of drug consumption in Portugal are now among the lowest in 
the European Union. There has been a dramatic decline in drug 
arrests, from more than 14,000 per year to roughly 6,000. The 
percentage of drug-related offenders in prisons decreased as well - 
from 44 percent in 1999 to under 21 percent in 2012.

Portugal's experience has inspired many countries to shift gears and 
it is our hope that the Philippine government considers the same.

We call on government, especially our police forces and law 
enforcement agencies, to ensure that the "war on drugs" does not 
imperil the lives of our people, especially the innocent.

We call on government, especially our police forces and law 
enforcement agencies, to pledge that the "war on drugs" does not mean 
deserting the constitution nor impinging on the basic rights of people.

We call on government to lay down its concrete plans on 
rehabilitation and reintegration. We call on government to be open to 
revisiting its current drug policies and to introduce changes as necessary.

We call on government to not only wage war against drugs, but to wage 
war against poverty and all forms of deprivation and 
powerlessness  so that our people will no longer find recourse nor 
refuge in drugs.

We call on government to employ approaches in the fight against drugs 
that are not only about punishment and criminalization; but 
approaches that use public health, justice, and human rights as 
frameworks for action.

We call on the Filipino people to remain vigilant and to not cease in 
crying foul against bad policies, malpractice, and injustice. For it 
is in our silence that we carve, for ourselves, our doom and our defeat.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom