Life!

Drugs can destroy a nation

THE ILLEGAL drug problem here and abroad is not a modern crisis. Almost three centuries ago, an illegal drug brought down an empire, the Imperial China. If not drastically eliminated, illegal drug trafficking and use, a massive cancer in the Philippines, could destroy our nation. Indeed, President Rodrigo Duterte’s aggressive war on drugs is most welcome, a brutal and desperate solution to a brutal and desperate situation.

China, in 1793, was rich in history and had a sophisticated culture. It invented kites, movable type, and gun powder, and perfected the production of tea, silk, and porcelain. In 1825, the British introduced opium to China and soon the Chinese became addicted to the drug. An illegal trade quickly developed in spite of the Emperor’s prohibition. Some of the government officials, leading businessmen, and a vast number of

Chinese were hooked on this drug. Weakened by this societal cancer, the Chinese government, unable to protect its own people, lost the support of the nation. Less than a century later, the empire was dead.

Oplan: Tokhang

President Duterte’s earnest zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs is what our poor country needs. With about 30 percent of Filipinos languishing in the gutter of poverty, who are homeless and hungry, who go to bed at night, not only with empty stomachs, but with empty dreams, and who wake up, day after day, to a bleak tomorrow, we cannot afford to allow drug trafficking and drug use in this country.

Knowing the evils of drug trafficking and use, President Duterte has waged a massive, bold, and aggressive war against drug lords, dealers, and users, with the equally determined PNP Chief General “Bato” Ronald M. dela Rosa, as his prime front-liner.

More than 600,000 drug addicts have voluntarily surrendered within the fist two months of Duterte’s presidency. As of August 31, 2016, 929 drug dealer suspects have been killed in encounters with the police and another 1,507 by unknown attackers, which are being investigated. Ten police officers have been killed during the various stings. So far, the total fatalities reported: at least 2,448. The results of the anti-drug campaign have been very impressive, considering the new administration has been in office for barely five months.

The many deaths attributed to the government’s war on drugs have been labeled by some quarters as extra-judicial killings, “without due process.” Whether vigilantes were responsible for the summary killings, no one seems to be sure. Many of these killings were done by tandem motorbike riders on the fly.

Instead of convicting the President of “EJK” right off the bat, perhaps he should also be accorded due process first. Let’s have all the evidence in. When he is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, that is the time for us, We, the People, to condemn him. But not before.

Due process

There are two kinds of due process provided by the Philippine Constitution: (1) Substantive, “which
requires the intrinsic validity of the law in interfering with the rights of the person to life, liberty or property. In short, it is to determine whether it has a valid governmental objective like for the interest of the public as against mere particular class,” and (2) Procedural, one which hears before it condemns.”

Removing all our personal biases on this issue for a moment, let us analyze the realities of the matter in a poor country such as ours. Let us take the example of a drug lord or a dealer, well known in their baranggay for their usual open illegal business, catering drugs to the local residents.

One of the objectives of due process is to be certain, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused is guilty or innocent. In most towns, the residents know the drug lord or dealers who have been operating for decades.

Now, if a vigilante kills a known drug lord or dealer, the killing is extrajudicial, because there is “no procedural due process,” but is there a substantive due process ”for public interest,” in this case?

But let us go through the motion of due process as human rights advocates (of whom I am one) demand. Since the courts are already overloaded, it would take months, if not a year or so, to adjudicate the case. And there could be more than 1.6 million drug offenders. Our jails are already crowded.

We need more prisons. More funds.

While in jail, the drug lord or dealer will be provided free board and lodging with air-conditioning, medical care, exercise and recreational activities, television, etc. And it is public knowledge that bongga parties are held in jail and even call girls are available for inmates who have the connection.

Whether you realize it or not, we will be subsidizing and financing all of the above with the tax money we pay each year, funds which could be channeled to house, feed, and provide medical care and education for the poor and their suffering families.

Are we, who are demanding due process, willing to contribute more to our government in order to build more jails to house, feed, and provide for the drug lords and dealers while in prison (without having to take the budget from the DSW, DOH, DOE, DOD, etc., for this purpose)?

The annual expense per inmate is P73,910, almost three times the P23,775 spent by the Department of Education for the basic education of a student.

The combined budget of “almost P2.5 billion for 135,000 inmates is larger than the P4.27 billion the Department of Social Welfare spends to feed 2.1 million undernourished children a year.”

The almost P74,000 annual expense per inmate does not even include the expenses to be incurred (budget for) the police, government prosecutors, and public legal defense provided for each indigent defendant.

When the drug lord shoots back and is killed in an encounter with the police, the government would save at least P73,910 per inmate, multiplied by at least 1.6 million offenders, equals more than P118 trillion, for one year alone. Those inmates will be in prison for a number of years. And the expenses will continue to add up, like a taxi meter.

In spite of these realities and expensive complexities of the law, to the disadvantage and detriment of the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, the application of due process must be honored and extrajudicial killings must nonetheless be outlawed.

In the same token, let’s have all the facts before we judge anyone. Least President Duterte, the People’s Choice, who has a noble dream for the Filipinos and our nation and who is putting his life on the line to save our country from chaos and destruction.

Isn’t this, after all, the essence of due process?

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TAGS: drug addiction, drugs, Duterte, health, nation, Tokhang
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