Sacrificing lives in an unwinnable ‘war’ » Manila Bulletin News

Manila Bulletin Philippines

Breaking News from the Nation's leading newspaper


Online Newspaper

Showbiz and Celebrity News

Sports News

World News
News Asia

Sacrificing lives in an unwinnable ‘war’


By Leandro DD Coronel

The so-called war on drugs is finally showing everyone its futility and wrongness from the start.

Society is finally being scandalized by the drug war’s brutality and ruthlessness. Citizens are finally realizing that it’s an unwinnable war with deplorable consequences.

Giving the police carte blanche in pursuing the so-called war emboldened them so much, they don’t worry or care about being hauled off to court for murder. With a blanket order to kill and a blanket assurance of no prosecution, the police suddenly became trigger-happy and engaged in nightly carnage that has been as indiscriminate as a prostitute desperate for customers.

Collateral damage has been extensive. Young men who couldn’t possibly be engaged in any big-time drug enterprise have been falling like ducks in a pond, dead from police fire that has been ringing in neighborhoods since the order to go and kill came down from “upstairs.”

But it’s been an unwinnable war from the start. How could a campaign to eliminate drugs succeed when it’s the users who are being killed instead of turning off the tap from where the drugs flow. It’s been the wrong approach from the beginning.

The bright mind that came up with the “war,” had it all wrong. The drive should have started by draining the supply faucet dry. Turn off the supply and there won’t be any users. I’ve said it many times here, no supply, no drugs; no users, no addicts.

Why did the police concentrate on petty users and not big-time dealers? Because it’s easier to kill neighborhood junkies than elusive suppliers and dealers who have protection from crooked personalities that include, according to President Duterte himself, politicians who want to get rich by dealing drugs. “Narco politicians,” he called them, reading from a thick list whose contents he never fully revealed to the public.

Meanwhile, the supply kept coming in unabated. Oh, there have been interceptions of drug shipments. But the conjecture out there is there are more shipments that escape the unwatchful eyes of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency than those that are caught.It’s even said that shipments that are caught are really decoys to hide the larger shipments of drugs.

There’s a growing indignation out there that the police’s war on drug users has been a flop, that it has caused too much anguish among the families of those killed in the “war.” Children, boys, girls: They’ve all been sacrificed in the altar of the war on drugs.

Those who’ve been on the sidelines, spectators watching the daily reality of easy killings, have now been awakened from their apathy. It used to be that those unaffected by the killings didn’t care as long as they were safe.

But the carnage has been spreading uncontrollably and people are feeling the danger getting closer to them. They now fear for their young children and themselves.

The presidential palace is now alarmed over the killings, not because they share the people’s gnawing fear of EJKs but because the people’s mood is turning ugly against the authorities. It’s time for damage control.

And so, according to the President’s spokesman: “We are having a major rethinking of the war on drugs.”

How angry are the people now? How disappointed are they over a “war” gone bad, gone so destructive of society that it’s causing many people remorse over their decision in the 2016 elections?

How widespread is the people’s revulsion over the police killings? How will the palace’s rethinking change how the “war” on drugs is being fought? Or is the “rethinking” just idle talk?


Tantrum Ergo. Leaders of countries that failed to win their own drug wars have cautioned fellow national leaders, including Mr. Duterte, about using violence against junkies to solve the drug problem. Unfortunately, their cautionary messages have fallen on deaf ears.

Tags: , , , ,

Related Posts

  • vg

    Most people are repulsed at the idea of a drug infested country.

    • JoseRaul

      Me too. Pero luwagan lang ang pagiisip. No problem with war on drugs but in the implementation. It should be in accordance to the law. What don’t you understand?

  • Bobby Angle

    Mr. Coronel,
    Do you mean let’s not do anything about our drug problem since we can’t win the war?

    • Ryan Erhman

      He means that the war itself as a violent series of events must be stopped.

      The right way to do this is not to focus solely on the supply side (for example, tightening the import of drugs through police operations) but on the demand side (giving people a livable life so that they won’t be tempted to “escape” into another life via drugs). Time and again, the experiences of other countries have been our guideposts for paving the way to a drug-free future, but we have been blinded by blood and promises of a quick and easier life through the ill-deserved suffering of a minority.

      The drug problem is merely a symptom. The underlying problems are systemic corruption in the government and a massively uneducated and willfully ignorant population. Getting rid of those two problems is the key, and not just focusing on one focal point like the administration is doing. Demand and supply. Both must work in unison.

  • giovn386

    even this column is just minority opinion in a democratic society, it still has to be respected. however, this column fails to understand that in a “war” there are at least 2 sides. why won’t the opposition recognize that the drug lords, narco politicians, corrupt police, businessmen, lawyers, religious leaders etc who are entrenched in the narco will FIGHT BACK against the government?

    which side of the war benefits the killings done by police outside of legitimate police operations?