By Ellson Quismorio
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate pointed to the results of a recent research analysis by the country’s top universities as proof positive that the Duterte administration’s all-out war on illegal drugs was indeed a war on the poor.
Zarate, a member of the militant Makabayan bloc, was referring to the research consortium led by the Ateneo School of Government, De La Salle Philippines, University of the Philippines Diliman, and the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.
One of the conclusions of the consortium was that poor Filipinos became the most vulnerable during the conduct of the aggressive anti-drug campaign.
“Nagpapakita yan na talagang yung kampanyang yun, matagal na nating sinasabi, giyera laban sa mahihirap yun. Hindi yun giyera laban sa droga (That only shows that the campaign, as we’ve long been saying, is a war against the poor. That wasn’t a war against drugs),” said Zarate.
“Giyera laban sa mahihirap dahil ang talagang na-slaughter dito, yung mga mahihirap (It’s a war against the poor because it was them who were slaughtered here),” he pointed out.
Duterte, a former longtime Davao City mayor, won the Palace seat in landslide fashion during the May 10, 2016 presidential polls. The tough-talking politician promised to eradicate the local drug menace, and thousands of drug-related deaths has since been connected to the campaign.
The universities studied the 5,021 drug-related killings from May 10, 2016 to September 29, 2017 as reported by various media. The research said that “based on [the victims’] place of residence or…occupation, it is clear that most of the victims were poor.”
The jobs of the 223 fatalities with identified occupations were as follows: tricycle, pedicab, jeepney drivers; barkers, construction workers, vendors, farmers, and garbage collectors.
However, only 15.7 percent of the total number of victims had their forms of employment indicated in the study. Most of the deaths were recorded in Manila, Quezon City, and Caloocan City.
Zarate insinuated that law enforcement authorities should go after the “big fish” in the drug trade instead of picking on the poor.
“Bakit ba maraming biktima ng droga sa mga mahihirap na komunidad? Dahil pinagsasamantalahan sila ng mga drug lords para lunurin sila, lasingin sila sa droga para makalimutan nila ang grabeng kahirapan,” he said, answering his own question.
(Why are there lots of drug abusers in poor communities? It’s because the drug lords take advantage of them, they drown and intoxicate them with drugs so they may forget the abject poverty they are in.)
“Ito ay irony: habang tuloy-tuloy na pinapatay ang mga mahihirap, tuloy-tuloy naman ang
ligaya ng mga drug lords dahil pumapasok ang mga droga hindi lang sa ating mga airports at seaports. Hanggang ngayon tuloy parin ang kalakaran na yan,” Zarate further said.
(This is the irony: while more and more of the poor are being killed, the drug lords continue to ‘make a killing’ since drugs continue to enter the country via airports and seaports. That kind of business persists.)