• The war on drugs is flawed and deranged


    First read
    Let me start with a disclosure and declaration: Because of the contrarian position that I am taking on the war on drugs, I want to declare that:

    1) I don‘t know anyone in the list of narco-politicians and drug coddlers that

    President Duterte unveiled on Sunday – not one friend or relative or townmate whom I would wish to shield from the punitive hand of the law and public shame.

    2) I personally do not use drugs, and am repelled by the very thought of them. And it has been the good fortune of my family not to see any member fall victim to drug addiction.

    3) I do not know anyone who is a drug dealer or drug pusher, at least not to my knowledge.

    Far removed from being targeted by the drug war, why then am I reluctant to give it my full support? Why am I loath to join the rabble of supporters for the President’s crusade and its excesses?

    I refuse to join the parade because I see in this public spectacle the marks of a modern-day inquisition, the signs of mob mentality, and the portents of authoritarian rule.

    Shock and awe
    President Duterte’s pre-dawn address last Sunday in Davao City was designed to reduce the nation to “shock and awe” about the war on drugs – shocked by the extent of official complicity in the illegal drugs trade, and awed by the President’s implacable resolution to win this war for people and country. (There’s an intended parallel to the US strategy in the war on Iraq; I will elaborate on this point in a later column.)

    “Name names” used to be the immediate riposte of persons accused of criminal acts in public. President Duterte

    did not only name names; he recited a litany of them.

    By the time he was done, no one was clamoring for names. Even the human rights police were momentarily silenced.

    The stage belonged wholly to Mr. Duterte and his list. No one was going to steal the scene from them.

    I listened to the complete address on my computer, and then read its transcript to make sure I heard him right.

    You would think that after such immersion in ‘Duterte talk’ I would come away totally convinced and relieved of doubts.

    Is this ‘a war of necessity’?
    But after considerable study of the facts and justifications for the government’s drug policy, the casualty count of the drug war, and the repeated presidential call for killing and more killing, and after studying them alongside expert international literature on drug policy, I have reached the conclusion that our national drug policy is not firmly anchored on legal and ethical grounds, and that the war on drugs, with the indiscriminate killings and carelessly prepared list of narco-politicians and corrupt judges, has become deranged.

    President Duterte still has not made the case before the nation that his drug war is a ‘war of necessity,’ and that its alarming count of killings is in any way justified.

    Confronted with protests and criticism about possible human rights violations and denial of due process, the President has scoffed: “I do not care.”

    Last Sunday, he turned this line up a notch when he declared: “Due process has nothing to do with my mouth. There are no proceedings here, no lawyers.”

    In short, there is no violation of rights when he is just making accusations, even if unfounded. He can defame as much as he likes.

    This would be all right if his hit list had been prepared with great care.

    A list of no legal value
    In fact, the list may be full of holes.

    Records from the Office of the Court Administrator at the Supreme Court showed that three of the seven judges named by the President are no longer active.

    1. Judge Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City, Samar regional trial court, who was named by the President, was killed while buying medicine at a drug store in January 2008.

    2. Judge Lorinda Toledo-Mupas of the Dasmariñas, Cavite RTC was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2007 for gross ignorance of the law.

    3. Judge Rene Gonzales of Iloilo MTC has retired.

    Worse, the Duterte list has no legal validity whatsoever. According to the dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, it cannot be used as a basis for an arrest.

    “The only thing going against anyone cited in the list is that they were mentioned by the President. That’s no basis for removing them from office or for filing charges against them.”

    Aquino explained: “An elected official can only be removed from his position after hearings, whether administrative or judicial, where they are shown to be guilty.”

    This is a world away from making the case that the Philippines was or is on the verge of becoming a narco-state, as the President has suggested.

    The President is not done with his listing binge. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said more names of public officials, including congressmen and governors, involved in illegal drugs would be announced soon by the President.

    Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said: “The President is encouraging all of the persons of interest, the alleged drug lords and drug coddlers, to come out in the open, to surrender themselves and submit themselves to thorough investigation.”

    Come out in the open? Confess? Without the government submitting one iota of proof that they are, indeed, complicit in the illegal drugs trade?

    This is why I am convinced that the Duterte strategy is shock and awe, like the US strategy in the war on Iraq, that through the sensationalization of the charges, persons named will be discombobulated into surrender.

    To disarm the local officials, Duterte has ordered their security escorts withdrawn, canceled their firearms permits, and stripped them of the authority to supervise the local police.

    And then the threat: “If you show the slightest violence and resistance, I will tell the police, ‘Shoot them.’”

    Prohibition does not work
    What clinched for me the conclusion that the drug war stands on shaky ground are some discoveries in my research:

    1. A prohibitionist approach to drug policy does not work. It did not work with alcohol during the prohibition era in the US.

    2. Alcohol and cigarettes are just as addicting and harmful as banned drugs. Why are they allowed to be manufactured and sold?

    3. It is fundamentally difficult to justify restrictions that prohibition places on people’s liberties.

    Drug legislation cannot be likened to compulsory seat belt legislation.

    4. The drug war swells prisons to overflowing.

    The argument that drug prohibition will prevent people from harming themselves is often justified on the basis of paternalistic considerations.

    But how do you answer the question of Nobel prize laureate economist Milton Friedman, who asked: “On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict?”



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    1. Let us support the war on drugs and congress should legislate very strict laws that mete death penalty for drug lords, drug traffickers and offenders(anyone caught in possession of >2 grams of illegal drugs – shabu, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and party pills) just like the laws on drugs in Singapore. Such laws helped in deterring drug traffickers from marketing their trades in Singapore.

    2. Jaime Dela Cruz on

      (There’s an intended parallel to the US strategy in the war on Iraq; I will elaborate on this point in a later column.)

      There is no parallel in the two strategies. The US claim of Iraq’s WMD is an excuse made by Bush, while our drug problem is very real. In my wife’s town of Taytay, in her ancestral neighborhood of one block, there are 5 known drug houses, one directly across my in-laws’ house and next door to the barangay chairman. Our drug problem is real, very very very real.

    3. A question is does anybody against drug war of the president suggested any key solution to solve the problem. It there?. Then if anyone of you have solution then tell the president of your solution and what you can do to address it. Is there any highest government official brave enough to solve this problem. As what he said an extreme solution need for an extreme problem. Stop, Surrender or Die.

    4. Im sure duerte when naming these people has evidence against them & that may be why they resist being arrested. If these people have properties or bank accounts with excess money in them over & above their salary, isnt it right to have that explained. If its all innocent like you won the lottery its very easily explained, but remember chief justice corona with his 180,000,000 pesos in a dollar account, he couldnt explain where that came from, if it was legal it is very easily explained. Just look at yourselves if you were investigated for hidden wealth, could you prove where all your assetts came from, yes you could even if they are legal or illegal. Get rid of your bank secrecy law & then catching these illegal people is much easier. The bank secrecy law allows them to very easily hide ill gotten moneies.

    5. If you were named as one of these persons, just the same as if it were i, & either or both of us were innocent wouldnt we go straight to the police to protest our innocence & answer any & all allegations. Ive had false claims made against me in the uk & i was interviewed by the police for a number of hours without a lawyer, why because i knew i was innocent.
      Now you have a law in the philippines if charged with rape there is no bail, i know philippine law requires very little evidence to proceed with a case & i personally had a fiscal there use the word assumed against me. I said you cant assume, you need evidence. It was a person told them i had properties in the uk. No evidence ( as there isnt any as i dont own a single property in the uk. For many many years drivers who are nnocent of an offence have to pay as your country has it wrong in many many many occasions.

    6. arnel amador on

      dapat pala magresearch ka pa tungkol sa kung gaano kaseryoso ang droga sa paligid mo at ang epekto nito. it’s ok if you’re not joining the parade. he won’t care anyway. he is consistent to what he said even before he was elected prez, and he was chosen for what he is fighting for. being there, why stop him now…
      those who believes on maintaining status quo could be dreaming, because it did not work, and it will never work. let these crooks taste their own dosage of medicine, regardless. as a common law abiding folk, its a sense of relief, and i’m sure i’m not the only one…

    7. Sir Makabenta i suggest po, wait for the time till he win this fight against drugs before speaking…

    8. If the government will solve the drug menace in the ordinary process it cannot be solved. This war against drug has a collateral damage. Those who were accused, narco-politicians will not admit their criminal actions event to their wives.

      “In a place where wood is chopped, splinters must fall, and there is no avoiding this.” – SS Gruppenfuhrer Heinrich Muller , Head of the Gestapo.

    9. Meth (shabu) turns people into zombies, the addiction is becoming a plague, if something is not done fast, you will see a zombie apocalypse in the Philippines.

      What war is not deranged?

    10. Allen Llamar on

      Have you helped solved this problem as in my opinion I think none,nada, zero, zest other than non sense writing for a living.
      You probably protecting a relative , friend or a someone you know who is into drug either an addict, pusher or a drug lord. I m this close to call you a L##@%h but am not gonna say it because that`s judging you already.

      But I am gonna call you modern day ‘PHARISEE’.

    11. What is paramount is the safety of the people in their houses and on the streets. Your opinions don’t count at all. I care more about the lives of the innocents than of the addicts and the opinionated.

    12. “On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict?” — I believe this begs the question: should we allow them to be such?

      A good percentage of criminals are drug infused when they commit a crime. While drug related criminal activities are but a portion of the big picture of lawlessness and evil that pervades this country, reducing it to a minimum if not totally eradicating it would mean a great deal. This will translate to one drug addict out of the street. One less criminal. One less family suffering from having an addict in the family. One less murder victim. One less rape victim. One less innocent bystander mugged.

      President Digong did not promise the moon and the stars in his campaign. He just wants to try and do what he possibly can to make this country better. We believe him and we support him because we know the chaos and misery caused by drug proliferation in this country. Because we ordinary folks live in the real world.

      You say that the drug war is flawed and deranged. Mr. Makabenta perhaps you have a better idea how to flush out drug lords and drug addicts in this country. We would love to hear your ideas. Otherwise, we would appreciate if you will try to see things from our (ordinary folks) perspective.

    13. you state that you are outside the loop of the drug menace, with due respect you, therefore , lack background on this topic,…. . 16 million voted for Duterte on his promise to fight the drug menace in 3 to 6 months, out of these 16 million, a majority of about 6 million families, kin and relatives have been victimized by this drug menace . We walk hand in hand behind PDU39 on this 3 to 6 month crusade to put an end to this evil….

    14. Ignacio Balbutin on

      Naming names is a warning for those people named. If those people are really innocent then they can easily clear themselves. I am shocked on how drugs have penetrated the young and the old all over the country that I think shock and awe is needed to stop this drug menace that is destroying the country. I hope the President can eliminate drugs and corruption in a few months. Let shock and awe continue until all the drug lords and their powerful protector and the corrupt politicians are eliminated

      • He cant do it in months, thats impossible as the scale of it is immense but he can make a start & others who follow should continue it & eventually it can be won.

      • Be careful Mr. Balbutin, you are already on the drug list. Kindly check in with the chairperson of your Barangay and clear your name before its too late.

    15. When Duterte said that there’s a drug problem in our society before the election, walang gustong maniwala. Lalo na ang Aquino administration. Ngayong lumabas ang katotohanan, napupuno na ang jail? So better na walang war on drugs?

    16. If the above columnist saw what happen to Mexico, he will praise Duterte for doing this disclosure. The politicians in Mexico are all being bribe and murders are all over. Kidnappings are all over. Policemen and judges killed in broad daylight. Do we want this to happen in our country ? There was a wedding and the drug cartel in Mexico killed everybody. The worst thing is that is not the wedding party that should be killed. Mistaken party. This was happening in Davao before Duterte. NPA killing policemen and judges. Same as in Mexico.

    17. It’s my impression that President Duterte is subtly & slowly governing us by RULE OF FEAR by irresponsibly “naming, shaming & witch-hunting” alleged narco-politicians, narco-judges & others based on carelessly prepared list. He further said, “I don’t care about human rights violations because his mouth (dirty) does not recognize due process.” Mr. President, please be reminded that people’s patience has its own limit & will find its own way.

    18. The Great Defiant on

      Mabilog is a well-known drug protector in Iloilo.
      Every right thinking illonggos knows it.
      Even the sniffing dogs.
      But the PDEA in Iloilo is turning blind eye on Dragon and Mabilog.

    19. Mr. Makabenta, if you were the President of the Philippines…what solution would you do to solve the problems of our Country ?
      Criticizing a method of solving a problem without offering an alternative solution amounts to nothing .

      The “RULE OF LAW” does not work so long as the CORRUPT OFFICIALS in the government are left to continue their trade with impunity … they should be gotten rid off to the extent of applying an “UNORTHODOX WAY” !

      If other Countries cannot solve their drug problems … maybe our current President can .

      Let us give him our support and pray that may he be successful in his quest to get rid of the seemingly unending problems in our Country .

      • Makabenta has to write D30 opposing articles in order to catch attention and sell his one-way ideas to pay his bills. His candidate Binay is no longer in power and his bank account is dwindling.
        He can only criticize because he is used to doing so without knowing any options to eradicate the problems he mostly writes about. A veritable dickhead!!

      • If i am a president, I will remove all the squatters in metro manila..i will ask congress to repel the Lina’s Law. The root of this drugs is poverty.I ayos niya muna ang ekonomiya at hindi full concentration niya ay sa drugs..Nakakalimutan na ang ekonomiya ,,Style niya ay pang mayor, Sana nag DILG na lang siya at pahawakin niya sa iba ang puwesto niya..Lawyer daw siya,pero dahil pasang awa sa bar,, at obsolete na ang alam sa batas at bastos ay maihahantulad siya don sa isang judge ng cavite na pinangalanana niya na naalis dahil mahina sa batas at bastos….siya na siya yun..

    20. “On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict?”

      Yes, of course, the government has the obligation to foster the common good of the community, i.e., to prevent and shield the populace from the influx of a dreadful menace and the commission of heinous crimes that will not only harm them seriously but decimate them. It is also the right of the people to expect government to fulfill its mandate to see to it that their constitutional rights are delivered and guaranteed by the exercise of its inherent powers, one of which is its police power.

      An individual’s right cannot at all be superior than the rights of the great many in a community.

    21. Why don’t you shut up.It is working. Look at the number of people who surrendered.
      If DU30 did it the right way would you have that many surenderees?:Technically you are right but it does not get results. Narco politicians are more afraid of being mentioned by the president than being dragged in court

    22. You nailed this one, but you failed to mentioned that the absolute power of the Presidency was gravely abused in this war on drugs. When he named names in the list, he stress that he alone has the full responsibility because no body can fight back, under the constitution he is immune from being sued, so goes with impunity of extra judicial killings one’s honor and refutation by trial by publicity.

      • so enigma you dont like him naming names. How many people in power & or government say i heard this from a source, but never mention their source & then we all say name the source, we need to know who said it. Well this president is doing just that & i believe its the right thing to do, if after coming forward & the person is totally innocent i also would expect the president to then publicly clear that person in front of the whole country & or world.

    23. With well over half a million who have voluntarily surrendered to the police, can you still not see how deep and widespread illegal drugs have taken hold of the populace?

      Is their growing number not gross enough to convince you that our country is descending into a narco-state?

      Will it take rape or murder reaching your immediate family for you to feel the President’s sense of urgency and to support a ‘war of necessity’?

      Does the death or retirement of those named in the shame list prove their innocence?

      Is the failure of the Prohibition era not too narrow a view?

      Hasn’t Duterte’s war of necessity shown up the lack of prisons and rehabilitation centers which big business, big media, the Catholic Church, and sundry moralists should be helping the government build as soon as possible?

      If the Nobel Prize proves Friedman’s superior intellect, does it also prove his common sense? What is unethical about the machinery of government being used to prevent alcoholics and drug addicts from harming the rest of the citizenry?

      Sisyphean as it seems, shouldn’t the war particularly against shabu — which may fry the brains of younger generations long after we are dead — be fought over and over?

    24. Mr. Yen, doing something is better than doing nothing! You better support President instead of giving him bad opinion.

    25. Read Cito’s article “Cockroaches and crabs in life .”

      He wrote, “Because they (cockroaches) never crawled into our space or got to our face, we simply dismissed it as other people’s problems until we had an infestation.”

      “So the public voted an “exterminator” into office to get rid of the “cockroaches” dealing in illegal drugs. The problem with drug pushers is just like cockroaches, they have a colony that does what they do, or benefits from what they do. As long as there is one cockroach behind the plywood wall, or one drug pusher hiding in the barangay, it does not take long for them to repopulate their world with addicts, dealers, dependents and protectors.”

    26. A revolutionary movement to support Duterte is actually shaping up. But it has to be within the strait jacket of the Constitution if DU30 would like to minimize ‘reaction’ from the armed forces that may have trillanes like ambitions of their own.
      One way that DU30 can do it within the Constitution is to first declare the drug personalities as NARCO-TERRORISTS. President GMA had declared illegal drugs as a national security concern. So tagging these drug lords as narco-terrorists is a step in the same direction.
      Following this up — President DU30 can issue a presidential proclamation declaring drug lords as acute threats to the well-being of the Filipino people and a clear and present danger to the nation. Add to this the fact that most of the raw materials for shabu production come from China and the color of the National Security threat of these drug saboteurs is further exposed.
      Since the Philippine Military are sworn protectors of the people then the President can invoke this constitutional provision. Under this proclamation PDU30 can then mobilize the military and all armed government agencies to prosecute this all-out war against drugs and even convene military commissions to determine the guilt or innocence of these narco-terrorists.
      Narco-terrorists and particularly Philippine military and police personnel involved in drug-terrorism are committing high treason and perhaps if placed on a wartime context can then be shot by a firing squad legally. The same should also apply to the ABU SAYYAF since this is also plainly a criminal-terrorist group.
      The lessons of the US Bush administration is instructive on how Dubya Bush dealt with terrorists after sept 11, 2001.PLEASE REFER TO: an article published February & March 2002 – “Doing Justice During Wartime” by Abraham D. Sofaer, Paul R. Williams. This is readily available in the internet – just google it as the saying goes.
      Duterte needs a revolutionary movement to support him in his efforts so he can do things in stages within the bounds of the Constitution. Everything follows and the slow boil will not give a chance for the ” FROG” (reactionaries of both the right and left) to jump. With 2 former presidents in council with him and maybe Estrada going along – and the younger Marcos taking care of the North — what (Tiglao column) you envision is quite doable. But first the campaign rounds in all military camps should have their intended effects. No formal declarations are needed. PDU30 should just focus on getting the job done. The line he uses in all his speeches of protecting the Filipino people hits the mark.

      There is also the option of using the PDI people’s direct initiative just in case Pantaleon and Koko fail to keep Congress in line. This should be the focus of the Duterte Support Group (aka revolutionary movement) which should function as the civilian version of the PSG. Yes the possibility of assassination as part of the reaction is always there. But the DSG should go beyond supporting and protecting PDU30. Most of all it should also actively involve itself in vigorous civics education of the Filipino Polity. Otherwise this revolution will go the way of the French one where Danton and Robespierre were gobbled up by their own excesses.

      A well led awakened citizenry organized through the DSG and perhaps through a true original version of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino can truly help PDU30 achieve his good intentions for the nation – but most of all it would protect him against himself.

      Sic Transit Gloria.

      (that is gil rosero ramos but it is an apt signature reflecting seething anger that goes with these ‘interesting’ times.)

    27. 1. If you don’t prohibit, allow?
      2. Alcohol and cigarettes are totally different matter, another venue of discussion
      3. As you clearly admitted in your introduction, you have no idea at all what these drugs can do to people. Have you made a comparison of drug use in the Phils vis-a-vis other countries?
      4. Yes, prison overflow, let’s build more prisons. You can’t let these people stay in the hotel?

      On your last quote on Friedmann, I pose this question: What is the ethics of a society that would allow an individual to abuse himself? The first question begs: what is the ethics of drug use and self-abuse?