Abellanosa: Again, the war on drugs

Fringes and Frontiers

THE war on drugs (WOD) will not succeed. But let me qualify what I have said. It’s not that I don’t want any fight against illegal drugs to succeed. It can succeed and it must succeed within the realistic parameters where such war should be carried out. It can succeed and it must succeed using multiple, doable, and equitable means.

Now that Vice President Leni Robredo is on board the team, people are complaining against her strategies. Ironically, these were the same people who pushed the VP to present her alternative. The same crowd who shouted that she should accept the challenge of President Rodrigo Duterte. Apparently, their words were meaningless. It was all talk and saliva that lacked goodwill.

Those who are complaining against Robredo’s style should be reminded that they would not perceive anything nice from someone who comes from the opposition. What would you expect from Robredo who was vocal since day one on this whole WOD that has been associated with extrajudicial killings (EJK)? Only crazy dreamers and those in delirium would expect that the VP would take a ride in the administration’s manner of execution of suspected drug addicts and criminals.

I am not making a judgment whether the VP is right (I have my own stand on the matter). But if we say that she is making a mess and doing more complications in the government’s WOD, she should not have been appointed in the first place. When she gave that criticism that the war is not winning, the administration should just have taken those words to mean like any oppositionist’s statement.

Misguided passion and macho pride drove the president and his minions to challenge a woman who has a mind of her own. Now that she is executing things her way, the administration is somewhat confused whether it should act or move in the offensive or defensive. We have heard of that “great refusal” to give the “narco list” which the VP asked for. When headlines about the issue came out and when comments were all over, what followed was the president’s threat to fire or terminate her if she would compromise the drug war.

Should we not wake up to the bare reality that the “war on drugs” has become a “war of politicians”? We have been made to believe that the battle against illegal drugs is important, and this is a battle against a real evil out there. But perhaps we should have questioned at the onset whether the promise to end the problem of illegal drugs was a genuine rage against illegal drugs. Sadly, we were only about to ask the question when we have been overtaken by the truth that war, and any kind of war for that matter, is just an extension of politics. The promise to end the problem of illegal drugs in six months was not a declaration of war; it was a political rhetoric.

It was so good a political rhetoric that it captivated many supporters from different spectrums of life. That the country will become drug free under this administration is up to this point the greatest illusion of all great illusions. It has sparked the hopes of the poor. It has magnetized the millions of businessmen to support this administration. It has even gained the prayers of priests and pastors who are tired of their own over-spiritualization. It has offered the vindication which many have been looking for in their entire life. On a personal note, let me make it clear that if the current administration cannot win its war against illegal drugs neither can nor will Leni Robredo.

The one thing that we have all forgotten is the truth that “illegal drugs” is not an acute disease but a symptom of our chronic problems. In her book “The Political Economy of Narcotics”, Julia Buxton sheds light on the global coverage of the problem and how intricately tied or linked it is to the economic activities and transactions of states and the world market.

The fight against illegal drugs cannot be won by extreme measures or solutions. Going for any extreme measure would mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of casualties. And as we pursue the attack into the inner spaces of the drug trade soon we will have to make a retreat, for that would be the time that we would discover that our real enemies in this battle are not just poor drug addicts, street children, and their chemicals or substances. The real faces of our enemies in this WOD are that of persons and institutions that are not only familiar – but very close to our government.


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