There is an avalanche of news coverage on the apparent war on drugs. Most of it starts to sound the same after a while, but there was one piece I came across recently from Quartz Media that reported on the death of a 12 year old girl. She was hit by a stray bullet. The same kind that national leaders shrug their shoulders at an d call collateral damage.
There were three three specific statements in this article that I found very interesting, and I would like to comment on them here.
I remain of the opinion that this whole drug farce is an excuse for a broader agenda of the current administration that the general public do not yet know about. Although this may be giving Duterte too much credit. It is just as possible that he has no idea how to fix the country’s problems other than just shoot all the bad people.
The Official Statistics
“Research shared by the nation’s Dangerous Drugs Board suggests that current drug users make up 2.3% of the population aged 10 to 69, or about 1.8 million people. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, meanwhile, estimates that the highest-ever recorded figure for the prevalence of amphetamine use in the Philippines is 2.35%, comparable to the prevalence rates of 2.2% in the US and 2.9% among Australian males.”
We will ignore the fact that these statistics suggest the President has repeatedly lied about the drug extent of the problem and instead look at the comparative use levels between the Philippines and Australia.
It comes as no surprise to me that Australia has more meth users as a proportion of the adult population. I will bet many, many more times the number of cocaine, ecstasy, speed and weed users too. I have commented on this blatantly obvious fact when comparing the dance music crowd between the two countries.
Crime rates are far lower in Australia. How can this be? Oh yeah, there is far less poverty and desperation to feed one’s family in Australia. There is an inherently more respectful society in Australia and women are respected far more by the average man.
I read so many comments online that rapists, murderers and theft are all being caused by rampant drug addiction. In reality though, if you removed drugs entirely from society do you think the Philippines would still have a problem with rape, murder and theft? To draw such a conclusion is beyond ridiculous.
Its Bad to Kill People, but….
“I know it’s bad to kill people, but then people shouldn’t do drugs. Everyone knows Duterte’s policy about drugs. The drug problem is so bad that if Duterte doesn’t do something about it, we will be ruined as a nation.”
This statement illustrates why I think that this drug war could be little more than manoeuvring the public’s mindset towards an end goal they are chasing. I have said repeatedly on here that prior to the election campaign drugs did not register anywhere near the top of a list of things that the average Filipino cared about. Traffic, wasted tax dollars, and corrupt police were the things that people complained about every day. Frustration about the lack of government action on poverty not far behind.
Now it is all drugs, drugs, drugs. Duterte has done a magnificent job at manufacturing a national mindset where his own opinion has become a national mantra. To make things worse the killing of people has been normalised in the minds of the average Filipino. No one cares until they are directly affected and lose a loved one.
This notion that the Philippines will be ruined as a nation I think grossly underestimates how much the country has going for it, and the potential of the Filipino people. What drugs will ruin is the police force and justice system. News flash! Its already fucked!
The vast majority of Filipinos have no interest in using, or selling drugs. The nation is not the problem here.
The final extract I wanted to mention brings a tear to my eye…
A Grieving Mother Recounts a Horrendous and Tragic Experience:
“No one would help us”
When I wrote about the mainstream mindset becoming very ugly I came to a realisation that the drug war was not the cause of this, but just brought to light just how little many Filipinos genuinely care about each other.
This was a very hard thing to get my head around. You see Filipinos do amazing things for those around them frequently. If someone in a community is in need they will pass the hat to raise money to help. When there is natural disaster, people go out of their way to send food and good with personalised messages written on them to keep people they will never meet strong and full of hope.
These are wonderful acts of kindness and the foundation for the warm and hospitable reputation that Filipinos have. This is all but obliterated when you read stories of a mother holding her dying child and no one around her gives a fuck.
A lack of basic human decency I think is at the heart of many of the country’s issues. Many women get raped because Filipino men think they are entitled to do as they please with women, and do not have a basic respect for women. People are murdered because life is viewed as cheap, and most people treat it as such. Theft will continue as long as there is poverty, and limited opportunity for Filipinos.
The video below from late 2016 illustrates just how cold this attitude can be. A young student is attacked, stabbed, and eventually bleeds out on the street. You can see a group of people standing in the background completely unwilling to help, even when the attackers were long gone. They eventually walk over and stand around while this poor boy dies.
This one of the most heart wrenching things that I have ever watched. The attack is awful, but the lack of anything from every single person standing around is beyond disgusting.
Change will not come from just shooting all the bad people. Duterte says that the people need discipline. I think they need decency, and discipline. One without the other
The cause and effect may have been read horribly wrong by Duterte. This all-out offensive I believe will be a complete waste of time, resources and most importantly human life. The day he steps out of office everything will just go back to the way it was unless something that resembles a long term plan starts now.