Thoughts | An Essay on Drug Use Offenders in the Philippines & Democracy

So I was writing a draft for ‘Thoughts‘ post on the history of Philippine Democracy, and I was just overwhelmed by how much information I need to put in the post to detail the struggle of the Philippine people to achieve the freedom to choose a leader that denies it’s citizens the right of due process.

But I just get stressed.

With the lack of empathy among the people, the misinterpretation of the law, the rewriting of history. It boils my most basic beliefs, because as a student of Philippine History, I am disgusted by how the recent news is being reacted on by certain individuals. I love history, I read about the early Indios Bravos and their becoming Taong Malaya due to the perseverance of the Filipino spirit.

I have read about the exploits of our Bayanis and the sacrifices they have made to ensure that we have the freedom to express our ideas and choose how to live our lives. I have read the constitution, and how it details the laws that define a free republic in 1937 to the basterdization of it in 1973 when Democracy was essentially abolished and a Totalitarian Monarchy was actually in effect.

I admire the heroes of the Philippines for embodying traits that I have so much difficulty living up to: Kagitingan, Katapatan, at Katapangan (Honor, Loyal & Bravery). It’s too much to live up to those standards, but I feel we are obligated to try our best, not to regress to state of fear, anger and cruelty.

I have seen decent men do bad things, but if there is anything that I have learned about the human being, it’s that crime committed by the poor is never brought about by greed, but by desperation. When a man turns to selling drugs, it’s because there is no other means of living. When a man turns to drugs, life becomes too hard to bear. This is why substance abuse has a DSM criteria.

Drug addicts are sick people, and I cannot for the sake of basic human decency, imagine that a sick person must be executed for having a condition. People with mental disorders are locked in controlled environments because they a danger to themselves, and to other people. But why is one given mental care while others are marked for death?

They say that when you kill a man you not only take away what he was, but all he will ever be. – Batman, Batman Hush

A common argument is that Drug Users weren’t forced to take drugs, they didn’t have a gun to their heads, they chose to take drugs because they wanted to do drugs.

Perhaps that’s true in a way. But when a young individual takes drugs, why did they get exposed to it in the first place? Maybe the parents or support system (ie. Wife and Family) weren’t supportive enough, maybe the person is located in a social unforgiving community?

Then why do we punish the one taking the drugs, and not those who failed to educate them? Why not punish those who made it impossible for people to thrive, because of a terrible school system, terrible law enforcement, terrible family dynamics? The entire socio political infrastructure in general.

Why are there even avenues for this to exist?

We can all take a lesson from countries who have less than 4% drug dependence rates and lead the world in a drug rate control.

What do the top countries have in common? If we look at the public policies & services, these are the countries with the best education in the world, best health care delivery, best public service. This was made possible thanks to a goverment that supports initiatives to improve the well being of the citizens of their state.

And what’s interesting is that they are all democratic republics that got to choose their leaders, their law makers, their representatives. The leaders strive to provide good public service, by putting the interests of their constituents first.

What do we have? A government more interested in immediate results by placing band aides on socio-political laserations from years corruption. Execute the drug users! They cry out, punish the law breakers by delivering the heaviest ultimatum on them. Give no second chances because once a drug user, always a drug user.

People want to deny a sub group of criminals. Why isn’t this the same standard given to violent offenders? The domestic abusers? The rapists? The murderers? A good volume of crime isn’t mediated by drugs, a good volume of them occur due to irrational provocation, anger issues, over-estimation of societal status.

They weigh non-violent drug users heavier for reasons unexplained.

And I believe we are taking a turn for the worse with this way of executing justice. Summary executions are ignored and in a terrible swing of events, encouraged. The Philippines is adopting an ideology that due process is forfeit to drug users, for the simple reason that they are drug users. And that is not a democracy.

Value human life and respect the laws the support that idea, because in the long run, if we ignore developing our educational systems, our ways of delivering health care (this includes mental health), we will never achieve the status of nations who show that a utopia isn’t too far off when the people govern their government for the interest of the greater good.

Suggested Reading:

  1. The 1937 Philippine Constitution – This paved way for the basis of a democratic republic during the Commonwealth.
  2. The 1973 Philippine Constitution – The dismantling of the powers of the representative government which gave the president exclusive executive powers. This simply meant that the word of the President is essentially law; no checks and balances from the representatives, which meant that the people had no say in the governance of the country.
  3. The 1987 Philippine Constitution – The restoration of a People’s Democratic Government. This also includes the most important right of a citizen of the Philippines: Article III. Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
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