COMMENTARY: President Duterte and the Drug War

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ARAKAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews/15 Sept) – A Filipino Priest said that President Duterte is the only president he knows with a heart for the ordinary people. He has exposed the drug syndicate as ‘the mother of all crimes’ from murders, rapes, hold-ups, etc. to the system of corruption involving some policemen, politicians, business people and entertainers, and even some of the most respected personalities.

Pres. Duterte repeats “I Love the Filipino People, I must protect them, especially the young…” The passionate call of the president has aroused alarm about the proliferation of drugs and other related vices, from drinking to pornography, prostitution and criminalities. All of these have become big business and enjoy protection and impunity with the tacit consent of public opinion because of the culture of permissiveness and the culture of death. Can we allow the gradual killing of many, mostly young people, who are destroying their health, and become unproductive and destructive in their families and in society, until they are actually killing themselves?

Pres. Duterte has launched an all-out war on drugs. The Police now claim that those who do not surrender can be killed, and the vigilantes are thirsty for blood. Any war dehumanizes killers, especially when civilians become targets. Duterte has declared that he respects the laws of war for the protection of civilians or even unarmed enemies.

Killing can also become a drug. Killing sick people may be easy, the killers may feel unlimited power, but they may also feel deep guilt, often subconscious, which may cause disturbances in a person, leading to various forms of violence, then drinking and even drugs… Killers are dangerous even to their own families. Therefore the war on drugs should also limit killings, particularly by vigilantes or even by police acting as vigilantes. They may also become addicts to violence.

Pres. Duterte may resent unsolicited advice by self-righteous people who have failed to face their own failures to deal with the drug problem or even with greater problems. He may call church people hypocrites and blame foreign advisers for failing to stop the greatest crimes, like the economic system that allows the rich to become richer but causes countless deaths among the poor, the business of armaments and war that feeds terrorisms etc.

Yes, we should all face our responsibilities. Pope Francis denounces the globalization of indifference and the throw-away culture which allows millions to starve, millions to abandon their countries, millions to become victims of war, thousands to drown at sea or be enslaved by human traffickers… We may mumble that these problems are too big for us to solve, but Pres. Duterte can challenge us to wake up from our complacency.

I wish that our president may pursue the war on drugs while avoiding the ‘drug of killings’. I wish that he may convince more people to support a clean war, not a dirty war against drugs and corruption.

What would Jesus say about this? Jesus likes to make people reflect through parables, like the parable of Prodigal Son who wasted everything, even his own life and the family property. When he mustered the courage to surrender to his father, he was not put to shame, but was overwhelmed with loving care… However his older brother refused to share his Father’s joy for the brother who caused shame to their family…

We may share the resentment of the older brother and we may also think that it is easier to kill addicts rather than rehabilitate them. Many of them surrendered, I suppose with the advice of their loved ones and their friends. This is a positive indicator that so many of them are determined to become free from drug dependency. They need help for rehabilitation, which is a health problem. Can the government, churches and civil society provide an all-out effort for rehabilitation like the all-out war on drugs? Can each one of us help in some way?

Can we help also those who refuse to surrender? Can we help the government to stop the supply of drugs and to isolate and expose the drug lords? Can more suspects be arrested rather than killed? Can we avoid the ‘drug of killing’?

May the Father of Mercy and Compassion show us how to love our own people and help them become free from the slavery of drugs and corruption, while avoiding becoming addicted to the drug of violence. (Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME, assistant parish priest of Arakan in North Cotabato wrote this piece on 13 September 2016. It was first posted in on September 15, 2016. Permission to reprint granted by the Foundation’s secretariat).

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  1. The Rome Statute defines murder or persecution that is knowingly “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population” as a crime against humanity. The wide-scale extrajudicial killings carried out under Duterte’s orders meet that definition. Duterte will soon stand trial in the International Court of The Hague for the unlawful murder of many thousands of civilians.

    Dear people of the Philippines:

    An elected government should not declare war and militarize against its own people. Historically, the use of force to address/prohibit non-violent, victimless activities has only ever produced negative results. Such a violent crusade against civilians invariably evolves into a full-blown civil war.

    It is now obvious (at least to the rest of humanity) that you have foolishly elected a psychotic despot for president. This means that you no longer have due process, constitutionally protected rights or fair trials in a public forum. Suspicion or rumor is now all that’s required to terminate the life of any citizen.

    Nowhere on this planet has any nation ever had success with the policy of drug prohibition. Many of your villages, towns and cities will be turned into killing fields. Hundreds of thousands of you may now die. Your most precious institutions and possessions will be destroyed—but the drugs, the corruption and the violence will still be there and the world will finally realize how dangerous and utterly destructive prohibition really is.

    You are actually in the process of destroying your own society and nothing can change your fate. Every one of you is now vulnerable to deadly attack; world-wide drug prohibition has finally reached its inevitable conclusion.

    Thank you for helping to teach the world this powerful lesson with the blood of your own families!

    • It is a very sad state of Ph history that a cold blooded killer was voted into the highest position of the government. Philippines is now in the worst situation than in the days of Martial law its all because of this cold blooded killer president and the people are happy and upping the ante of killing more and more people in the guise of social order. Next year, I predict, will be the most deadly year of Ph new history after Martial law. Remember this: Dudirty will declare Martial Law next year especially that Supreme Court has issued its ruling on the case of DDS by ordering the continuation of investigation and possibly prosecution of all those involved in the DDS. Next year we will see lawyers, judges and justices will be killed in the orders of dudirty. Congressmen and senators who will oppose him will be executed in broad day light.

      His almost daily visits to all military camps around the country signals a bad omen of dictatorship and brutality. They (military) and the PNP are given double salary to ensure obedience to his orders to kill whoever will criticize or obstruct his malevolence.

      I am seeing a massive killing and a 95% chance of civil war if this trend of state sponsored killing will continue.

      I had a vision of dark smoke rising above Ph and a blood colored water all over.


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