September 21, 2020

Philippines’ “War on Drugs” Information Tour in Europe

Secretary Martin M. Andanar with Ambassador Jaime V. Ledda. Photography by Anton Lutter.

By Anton Lutter.

February saw a much appreciated tour of Mr. Martin M. Andanar, the Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) visiting cities like Paris, Brussels, The Hague, London and Geneva informing Filipino community leaders, journalists, politicians and officials about – amongst others – the accomplishments of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs. 

One part of the mission of the PCCO is to inform and raise awareness of the public about the policies, programs, and projects of the Presidency. It is during President Duterte’s midterm that Secretary Andanar has taken it upon himself to inform us what’s at stake and what the results are considering the War on Drugs. In 2016, Duterte was elected on a platform of combating the illegal drugs trade and corruption, which up until now is overwhelming backed by the Philippines people resulting in continuous high popularity, now being at an all-time high.

To illustrate the effects narcotics has on family life the documentary “Gramo” was shown to fully packed venues. Particular gruesome is the murder, by a man high on drugs, of his own wife and even more shocking is the reaction of their young child who cannot encompass what occurred. Sadly enough this is not the exception. As the President iterates if the breadwinner is on drugs the whole family is destroyed. There’s no food on the table, the wife is abused, children cannot attend school, poverty continued. This is the real human rights offense. 

President Duterte has vowed to the Filipino’s to fight this evil, with all his might. His straight-talking message underlines the importance of his mission. There’s no sugarcoating here. Of course, this is not to the liking of the do-nothings, who’s legacy to the current government and the Philippines people is what it says: nothing. The 2016 presidential election changed all that, the Clean-Up Guy got voted in! And clean up he can. As Mayor of Davao City he got rid of crime making it the safest city in The Philippines becoming a hugely popular destination for tourists. 

These challenges are obviously not easy. You just don’t solve a problem that for decades has been neglected. As President Duterte explains himself: With the sheer magnitude of the illegal drug problem, I am cognizant that we still have a long way to go in addressing this deeply rooted societal. 

The Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy states clear a vision for the future: by 2022, the Philippines will be able to achieve drug-free communities, provided by an extensive framework for law enforcement and penalties for violations. At the same time adopting a compassionate approach to the victims of drug use by encouraging treatment and rehabilitation. Sofar a broad array of projects have been implemented, bringing together families, schools, communities, faith-based groups and many more. 

To name just a few examples of the many activities which make up the War on Drugs campaign: Kids Against Drugs Program, which educates children to say no against drugs; Barkada Kontra Droga, organizing youth who advocate a healthy, drug-free lifestyle within their peer groups; Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, established to help eradicate illegal drugs within communities at the village and ward level; Yakap Bayan Program, which provides former illegal drugs users and their families financial assistance (educational, medical and burial), cash and food for work, livelihood assistance, family counseling, and enrollment to the Family Drug Abuse Prevention Program and Special Drug Education Center.

It’s obvious these huge tasks take leadership and perseverance.  So, what has been achieved under the guidance of President Duterte? Facts speak louder than words: since July 2016 150.000+ anti-drugs operations conducted, 223.000+ persons arrested, Euro 715.000.000+ worth of drugs seized, 500+ narcotics dens and clandestine laboratories have been dismantled, 485.000+ surrendered to reformation programs, 34.000+ wards or villages have been declared drug-free and more than 2.800 children have been rescued form illegal drugs activities. Next to that almost 1000 government workers have been arrested in anti-drugs operations. Duterte’s message to the servants of the state leaves no room for interpretation: if you’re involved in narcotics, you’re going down. 

Many have died because of illegal drugs and its trade, at the same time many more have been saved and that’s what really counts. So, what’s at stake is obvious, the future of The Philippines and its children. The Filipino’s are very aware of this, 82% support the War on Drugs of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

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