By Manny Otiko | Op-Ed Special to California Black Media Partners
I recently watched a VICE report on the Phillippines’ War on Drugs. President Rodrigo Duterte declared open season on drug users and pushers last year and has currently killed more than 7,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch. The problem is most of these people are not being properly adjudicated. Apparently, once you are identified as a drug user/dealer masked men show up and put a bullet in you. No judge, no jury, no appeal. That sounds like a death squad. One troubling aspect of this genocide is the accuracy of the targeted assassinations. Were these people drug dealers or drug users? And if they were drug dealers, is smoking pot worthy of death?
Some brave journalists are still trying to document this. The VICE report showed them running around Manilla documenting the murders, which seem to happen about every hour. Incidentally, the Philippines is also the site of the largest massacre of journalists. 32 reporters were found in a mass grave. That case is still unsolved.
Listening to Duterte is a chilling experience. He casually talks about killing people. Duterte also told stories of dropping criminals out of helicopters when he was a mayor. He is obviously a sociopath, much like other mass murderers such as Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. But Duterte’s War on Drugs seems to be working, because he currently has an 80 percent approval rating. Even more depressing Duterte has been praised by President Donald Trump, who invited him to the White House.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” said Trump said in a phone call leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
There are some lessons for America in the Philippines War on Drugs. Firstly, draconian get-tough-on-crime policies don’t work. Locking up criminals and throwing away the key and killing law breakers, sounds good but innocent people get caught up in the drag net. Unfortunately, no one seems to care in the Philippines. But is the United States that different?
How many innocent people get railroaded through the criminal justice system by prosecutors eager to rack up wins and lowly-paid public defenders? According to a 2014 study by the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” an estimated 4 percent of people executed in the United States are innocent.
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou documented the effects of the War on Drugs on the Black community in his recent book “Doing Time Like a Spy.” In an interview with “Our Weekly,” he lambasted Attorney General Jeff Session’s plans to relaunch the War on Drugs.
“Jeff Sessions is leading the country down the road which everyone knows is a failure,” said Kiriakou.
The sad thing about the Philippines is their War on Drugs is going to fail too. All it’s going to do is turn their country into a human rights pariah, and the problem won’t go away. I’m sure when they decide to end this war, they’ll realize they still have drug users. Drug use is a medical problem. Drug users don’t behave rationally; they are sick people who need medical treatment. Attacking the problem with police/para military solutions is akin to dropping a nuclear bomb on a homeless camp.
So next time someone tells you that America needs to solve its crime problem by getting tougher on offenders, tell them about how the Philippines’ War on Drugs is going and ask them if they are willing to live with 7,000 murders a year?
10 total views