• Is there safety in being named in the Duterte list, peril in not?


    First read
    I pose the question above, because it is another intriguing indicator of derangement in the war on drugs.

    If you are involved in the illegal drug trade in any manner (as drug lord, pusher, protector or user), and you become a person of interest (suspect) by being named or shamed in the Duterte list or Duterte talk, you have a fair chance of survival.

    Conversely, if you remain incognito, unshamed and unsung, you are in grave peril of losing your life, by being rubbed out by the police (in a fictitious gun struggle or outright execution), or gunned down by a vigilante.

    If after being named in the list, you turn yourself in to the police, especially to PNP Director General Rolando “Bato” Dela Rosa, your survival chances will appreciate, you may even get police protection, insurance companies will clear you for life insurance.

    Peter Lim and police generals
    When President Duterte, in his initial exposé, named Peter Lim as the biggest drug lord in the country (he was abroad at the time), the President sternly warned Lim he would be shot on sight if and when he returned. Peter Lim did return, he was not shot, and he immediately handed himself over to the authorities. He was granted an audience with the President and even got a front-page photo opportunity. We have not heard about Lim since then, other than his protestations of innocence and claims that he must have been mistaken for someone else.

    It is the same with the police generals, active or retired, who were named by the President in that first list and exposé of the drug war. All the generals protested their innocence. Not one has been charged or arrested.

    852 killed in anonymity
    In stark contrast, those who have been anonymous have been eliminated in various acts of violence by the police and vigilantes. At last count, there are already hundreds of such killings.

    Duterte’s crackdown on drug suspects has killed some 852 individuals from May 10 up to 3 p.m. of August 5, according to an independent tally made by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

    Sixty-two percent were killed in police operations, 29 percent were killed by unidentified assailants, while nine percent were dead bodies found away from the crime scene.

    The recent Duterte list has turned up one dead person, and it was a judge who died eight years ago, but is accused posthumously.

    Scolding for my criticism
    I have received a ton of letters and reactions to my column last Tuesday (“The war on drugs is flawed and deranged,” Manila Times, August 9, 2016), and I will strive to address and answer those that were not just hysterical or righteous, but thoughtful about the issues that I raised.

    The hysterical berated me for daring to criticize the war on drugs and President Duterte’s drug policy. Some said I should just wait till after DU30 has won the drug war; and then there were those who said that at least President Duterte is doing something about the drug menace.

    Most missed entirely my point that the government has not given us facts and figures about the real drug situation in the country. No one, not the drug enforcement agency and not the Dangerous Drugs Board has bothered to brief the nation about the situation.

    All we have to look at is a rising body count of killed drug suspects as compiled by the media, and vague statements that as many as 3 million of our people may be drug-addicted.

    Some readers also scolded me for not providing a solution as an alternative to the President’s drug policy and program. I cannot claim competence to do that. But I have some idea about what would be a sensible drug policy for our country to adopt, instead of the indiscriminate killings and the heedless accusations now taking place.

    Incise and positive online article
    As a positive suggestion, I want to call the attention of readers to an article written by Mr. Hector Gamboa on the Get Real Philippines website.

    The article is entitled, “Forcing a western-style liberal approach in solving the Philippine drug menace may not work for us’: http://www.getrealphilippines.com/blog/2016/08/forcing-western-style-liberal-approach-solving-philippine-drug-menace-may-not-work-us.

    The article is well researched and persuasively argued. He cites some countries that have had some success in fighting the drug menace.

    Two of the most notable are Portugtal and Singapore.

    Mr. Gamboa suggests that just gunning down all drug addicts and drug dealers is not a solution to our drug problem. We should take a pause for a moment and re-think our approach to the drug menace.

    He writes: “Like many problems in life, there is no one silver bullet that can wipe them all out. Singapore seems to have figured this out when it adopted a combination of approaches. It employs “a comprehensive national strategy to combat the scourge of drugs, comprising a high-profile public education campaign, treatment and rehabilitation of drug offenders, as well as strict laws and stiff penalties against those involved in the drug trade.”

    So basically it pursues prevention through educational campaign and rehabilitation programs while still applying strict punitive measures (including the death penalty) to drug traffickers and unmanageable drug addicts.

    Singapore’s experience
    He quotes Michael Teo, Singapore’s High Commissioner to the Court, who explains Singapore’s experience as follows:

    “Public education against drug abuse starts in schools. For abusers, our approach is to try hard to wean them off drugs and deter them from relapsing. They are given two chances in a drug rehabilitation centre. If they go through counselling, kick their drug habit and return to society with useful skills, they will not have any criminal record. Those who are still addicted go to prison, where they are put on general rehabilitation programmes to help them reintegrate into the community.

    “Strong community support against drug abuse has been critical to our fight against drugs. Singapore society resolutely rejects drug abuse. Several voluntary welfare organizations run halfway houses to help recovering addicts adjust back into society. Many employers also come forward to offer reformed drug addicts employment opportunities.

    “Drug traffickers are a major part of the problem on the supply side. They make drugs available in our communities and profit from the human misery they help create. This is why tough laws and penalties are needed, including capital punishment for trafficking in significant amounts of the most harmful drugs…     “Singapore has one of the lowest prevalence of drug abuse worldwide, even though the problem has not been entirely eliminated. Over two decades, the number of drug abusers arrested each year has declined by two-thirds, from over 6,000 in the early 1990s to about 2,000 last year. Fewer than two in 10 abusers released from prison or drug rehabilitation centres relapse within two years…

    “Because of our strict laws, Singapore does not have to contend with major drug syndicates linked to organised crime, unlike some other countries.’

    We are one of these other countries. And we have a lot to learn, in spite of all the dead bodies strewn around us.



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    1. Tandaan mo YEN MAKABENTA,,pag nag salita ka na parang di Pabor kay duterte , ang social media niya na 24/7 na tumatakbo na parang sindikato ay pupunuin ka ng ng pang aasar at i dodown ka..Lahat ng di sumansang ayun kay duterte ay may brigade siya ,propagandist na iisa ang sinasabi…Ang bilang ng adik sa atin, ay kasama na yung nag ru rigby, o marijuana..na dahil sa kahirapan ay don lang nakakakuha ng ligaya..Na over excite lang ang bilang ng adik kuno na sumuko, dahil mukhang adik ka ay papadalahan ka na ng notice at dahil mahirap ay tatakutin ng barangay, mabuti pa pumirma ka na na adik ka,,,kahit minsan ka lang tumikim..pero ang ayos mo ay mukhang adik,,,may tattoo, may hikaw sa tenga, naka sinelas,,mabunganga, etc…Isa pa suspect na user,pusher, drug lord ka,,eh yung lam niya na di sumoporta sa kanya at inapi pa siya..Ganti ganti ang style ni duterte,,DAVAO ng ,di niya nalinis sa illegal drugs..Kung Magaling siya…

    2. Portugal and Singapore are small countries. In battling the drug menace, whatever method that is effective for them may not be effective for the Philippines.

      We are bigger and separated by many islands with different culture, customs and traditions. The method of the President by applying surprise expose’ of drug lords, coddlers, pushers, and users seems to be working. It must be given a chance.

    3. until you solve the poverty inherent in the Philippines you will never solve the drug problem.

    4. What the author Mr. Gamboa about those struggling for a drug war, is the culture of the nation itself. It really matters on the culture of the nation, Filipinos are just too lazy to be educated, too lazy to work out, and love instant money. But when lives are threatened, they are too afraid of the grave. We can see that we are more alarmed on the rising of dead body count, but not alarmed of intangible growth of drugs poisoning and lethargy. These weakness of being afraid to die must become a brand of drugs, so Filipino might learn the hard way of involving a drugs again. Free our youth from the decimation of poisonous meth.

    5. Biblically speaking……It say,submit to the governing authorities…..If you do good it is okay,no problem…If you do bad it is very dangerous,surely you will punished…No place for all the wicked.President Rodrigo Duterte administration is right on war on drugs….Execution is the punishment is bad but we have no choice…We must submit to the governing authorities for the benefits of the whole nations….He was elected for that mandate war on drugs and corruptions is justified….

    6. pray tell, mr makabenta, if we follow the formula of portugal, legalizing drug use- will it lessen the drug abusers, in portugal n netherlands- legalized drugs usually pertain to the least destructive drug- marijuana.
      we dont have the budget to follow singapore’s experience of educating/rehabiltating the drug users/ Perhaps the catholic church ( who shout the loudest) with its billions in the bank can put up rehab centers all over the philippines so that it can bring these people back to the fold. but will the catholic hierachy loosen its pursestrings.

    7. In solving drug menace in our country, is just like playing Chess. If you check mate the king , solved the problem . Just like what the late President Marcos did to Lim Seng. Lim Seng was known a king in drugs. He was check mate by Marcos. And the peril of drugs was solve. If president Duterte follows the pattern of the late President Marcos and to do checkmate all the suspected king of kings of drugs(drug lords/ drugprotectors) e.g the five pnp generals he named, and spares the pawns, I believe the drug menace in our country will be solved as faster than 4 o clock in the morning.

      • Bakit nalutas ba ni marcos ang drug problem noon? hindi naman ah..di lang nababalita, later on ay mga tuta na niya ang nagbebenta..tatay ko sa militar at sinasabi niya sa amin iyan, na ang mga militar ay naging hari at pati illegal ay ginagawa na,,di lang nababalita noon, dahil walang technology noon na ganito..facebook,twiter,kung meron man,sigurado block…marami rin rapist noon,,yan ay sa kahirapan..ngayun mahirap,nakakabili pa ng shabu,..noon mahirap,,10 sentabos na madrax lang, at noon ay panay downers lang,,magiging peace man ka,,,ngayun ay speed,,laging buhay ka at nagiging violente at nakaka sira ng utak…iba noon ,kaysa ngayun,,tama na marcos marcos na yan….

    8. It would seem that over half million users and pushers surrendering themselves within the period of one month is hardly a fail. That many of these users are now being given the opportunity for rehabilitation is hardly a fail and a better alternative than incarceration. It would seem that when corrupt officials are exposed that the supply of shabu entering the streets is likely to decrease substantially.

      I would agree that fewer deaths would be better. However, there seems to be a method to what some consider madness. Just looking at the numbers I doubt any country has ever had the kind of success over the drug epidemic that the Philippines has. Perhaps if people would step back and really look at what has happened in terms of the amount of drugs taken off the street, of the numbers of addicted entering rehabilitation, the restoration of peace and order in many communities, and the immobilizing of a culture of corruption that support drug use – it would seem that huge strides have been made that most countries would envy. And all of this accomplished in a relatively short time.

      I agree that the Philippines should not follow the western model. It has discovered its own model that seems to be successful – probably among the best when the focus is on results and the broader community good.

    9. michael richardson on

      Absolutely right. What does not seem to be discussed are the ‘Rules of Engagement’ when a drug pusher suspected or otherwise is confronted by the police.
      i.e. Only fire if they fire first
      i.e. Shoot to kill unconditionally.
      i.e Only fire if they will not surrender.
      etc etc
      This inconsistency is eventually going to create mistrust and resentment among the same poor people who elected the President.
      i.e. Why are the Bilibid Prison Drug Lords still alive when the Police are killing street corner drug pushers on sight.

    10. The Singapore CNB (Central Narcotic Bureau) announced in September 2011 that the the 5% drop per year, which they often proudly proclaimed as proof of the effectiveness of their tough drug stance, was totally inaccurate. Arrests it seems have actually increased since 2008 contradicting Singapore’s assertion that being tough on drugs (even with mandatory death sentences) has ever been effective.
      From January to June 2011 there was a 20% increase in arrests compared to the previous year. This not only indicates that drugs are entering Singapore but also that the amount of people in Singapore using drugs is steadily and surely increasing.
      This isn’t just a problem Singapore can claim is due to chronic drug users, as a large percentage of those being arrested are first-time users — 41% in 2008, 45% in 2009 and 46% in 2010. This clearly shows that threats of caning, harsh prison sentences and even death does nothing to deter either ‘chronic users’ or ‘first time users’.
      The government has promised to “look at the problem afresh and comprehensively”, but they’ve also pledged to maintain Singapore’s ‘zero-tolerance policy’. So no change there then, which is what we’ve come to expect from people who’s livelihood depends on an historically failed and dangerous policy.

      The Singapore government, and those who blindly support them, now have no proof whatsoever that their laws are curtailing drug smuggling or drug usage rates.


      Due to the embarrassment this has caused to the Singapore authorities, the original article from the above link has recently been removed. Kindly google: Central Narcotics Bureau blames under-reporting of statistics on migration to new computer system in 2008

      But there is a far more recent article.
      Kindly google: More Singapore youth seeking help for cannabis abuse


    11. I believe the Singapore model is irrelevant. They are a city state. DU30 ran on a platform of scaling up his anti drug program in Davao. The Singapore model cannot possibly be scaled up here on budget constraints. Guns also are absent in Singapore. Finally, DU30 approaches the problem on both sides, demand and supply. When successful, people will take us as a case study and replicated elsewhere

    12. You have done your research this time and not using moral, ethical and philosophical arguments in solving the drug menace. You now realized how serious it is.

      The Duterte strategy has many pitfalls albeit big danger in violating civil liberties and bypassing due process of law. This is well supported by many because of the sheer volume of yielders (600K), speed (citizens have grown impatient, knowing that enforcers and judges are part of the problem), and that local communities felt safer than never before sans these irritants (like pebbles inside the shoe).

      You will soon find the best arguments against the Duterte strategy if it fails, but the silent majority, those whose lives were impacted by these local thugs and lords who rule their rural life, will swallow all these arguments and moral seekers. It will be just like after the war.