In the Gender and Development Forum I attended at Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija on November 15, I was moved by one of the subjects of the papers presented. A researcher talked about the wives of those arrested during “Oplan Double Barrel” of the Philippine National Police (PNP). “Oplan Double Barrel” refers to the efforts of the police to capture those who sell illegal drugs. These targets, mostly men, are locked up in jail and have no clear hope of being reunited with their families.
Thus begins the sad fate of their wives, who have to be both fathers and mothers to their children. All of the five respondents to the study did not have permanent jobs even when their husbands were still with them. They have a hard time coping with their situation. They are ostracized in their community. They feel no one will help them.
Such is not the case of the spouses of police officers who are either killed or wounded in “Double Barrel” operations. For them, various government agencies are ready to assist in meeting their economic needs, especially their children’s educational needs, and even the families’ psychological and physical needs.
Is there a big difference between the spouses of the police officers and the wives of the alleged drug pushers? They are both left alone, with kids and household responsibilities to take care of. Why are the support mechanisms in place for the first group but not for the second?
President Duterte recently announced the return of the PNP to the anti-illegal drug crackdown to back the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. I fear that the number of “Double Barrel” casualties will rise. Yes, the wives of the alleged drug pushers are also casualties. The dictionary defines a casualty as “any person, group, thing, etc., that is harmed or destroyed as a result of some act or event.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has its services called Assistance to Families in Crisis Situations (AICS). It gives counseling, as well as financial, food, medical, and educational assistance to those who are in crisis situations. These housewives are precisely in a crisis situation. What they have been going through every day since their husbands were taken away is truly unimaginable. Unfortunately, they are not aware that such services from the DSWD exist and the DSWD has not approached the wives affected by “Oplan Double Barrel.” Although the guidelines on how to help these families in crisis are set, these wives are probably not comfortable and even scared to approach the government agencies.
I hope that the social welfare offices would take the initiative to locate and assist these families rather than wait for them to ask for help.
Menchie Ann V. Canlas is a part-time instructor at Bulacan State University and an MBA student at the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She wrote this essay for her class in Lasallian Business Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility during her first term in the MBA program. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org