Until the extent of the illegal-drugs contamination in the country was unraveled by President Duterte, who would have thought that the country’s illegal-drugs ring reached all the way up in the police and government hierarchy.
With police generals, governors, mayors and legislators being allegedly involved in illegal-drugs trade, I cannot imagine where the country could have been, if not for Duterte’s real hard stand against illegal drugs. And, most important, if many of our supposed protectors and policy leaders are also involved in the illegal-drugs trade, to whom can we entrust our safety from the ill effects of this social menace then?
Already, over 3,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed, over 6,000 individuals allegedly linked to the illegal-drugs trade arrested and more than 600,000 users have voluntarily surrendered to government authorities, supposedly to undergo rehabilitation. Incidentally, though, many of those who voluntarily surrendered to government authorities were back to their old illegal-drugs habits after being sent home, because of the lack of facilities to rehabilitate them.
Government estimates place the number of illegal-drugs users in the country at over 3 million. According to Duterte, this could easily rise to 500,000 or more each year if the drug problem is not properly addressed with hard and drastic actions. In the Metro Manila area alone, 92 percent of its barangays are reported to be affected by the illegal-drugs problem. However, Duterte’s unrelenting anti-illegal drugs and criminality campaign has changed the game. It’s now the big-time illegal-drugs dealers and pushers who are on the run.
But while the president’s ceaseless campaign against illegal drugs have already made amazing results, with our homes and streets much safer these days than prior to Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs and criminality campaign, the campaign against drug abuse could still be strengthened, if only the users will not be treated as victims, unless they are minors.
Like illegal-drugs pushers, users who are of legal age are also aware that they are committing an illegal act. And if pushers are jailed for selling illegal drugs, users must also be meted the same penalty. Life is a “temet nosce”. We should know ourselves, especially in choosing between right or wrong. We have to be sure of ourselves no matter how others prefer to perceive us. True friends will like us for what we are, and not the “us” they prefer to see. Thus, justifying a drug user’s claim of being a victim with pleas of peer pressure or getting away from emotional problems would be unjust. After all, if a drug user gets high on drugs and commits murder, how can the government justify its supposedly “humane” approach of handling drug users as victims of this social ill to the grieving
family of the real victim.
Duterte’s anti-illegal-drugs campaign has already gained substantial ground, even only in his first 60 days in office. And he’s still four months away from his campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs within six months of his presidency. The government’s anti-illegal-drugs campaign can gain more steam by penalizing drug users who are already of legal age just like drug pushers.
Because of corruption in the government, the Philippines has become a major illegal-drugs hub in the Asean region. Coupled with its high incidence of illegal-drugs use, the country is a good market for shabu and cocaine, among other party drugs. The illegal-drugs trade is a market-driven business. So long as there are buyers, drug pushers will find ways to sell their illegal merchandise, at a much higher price, of course. And for those hooked to drugs, money is immaterial so long as they are able to satisfy their cravings. In fact, in many instances, drug users commit a crime to maintain their illegal-drugs habit. Thus, if demand for illegal-drugs in the country is significantly reduced, if not eliminated, by cutting off the market, the illegal-drugs trade will not flourish.
And to do this, drug users must also be penalized like drug pushers, if only to deter them from trying it. That way, the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign will not only be strengthened, but it can also save a lot of money from the cost of rehabilitating drug users, who in the first place made a wrong choice in life.
The State of Florida in the US is now grappling with an even more horrifying “flakka” designers drug outbreak. Flakka is a violent “zombie” drug that causes frightening hallucinations. Called “gravel” in the US, it is a relatively cheap drug that can be eaten, snorted or vaporized in an e-cigarette. A single dose can give a user a potent but fleeting rush—or turn them into a paranoid zombie with superhuman strength and off-the-charts vital signs.
We must not take the chance for flakka to reach our shores. Duterte has successfully sent a strong message to big-time drug dealers down to small-time pushers to stop this insanity. Most of them are now on the run. The government must also send a strong message to illegal-drugs users and those who are still not into drugs to stop and/or avoid this madness, or they will be meted the same penalties applied on drug pushers.