How is President Duterte’s Harsh Crackdown on Drugs Working Out?

How is President Duterte’s Harsh Crackdown on Drugs Working Out? By Jim Dunnigan.

President Duterte’s remains popular despite, or because of, his “war on drugs”. Since 2016, when Duterte was elected and began, as promised, the war on drugs, over 5,500 suspected drug dealers, distributors and smugglers have died. Another 220,000 suspects were arrested or turned themselves in. About four percent of those arrested turned out to be key people in the drug business and this has done a lot of damage to the illegal drug business.

Most Filipinos ignored the foreign and local protests over the “shoot first” tactics employed. Opinion surveys continue to show the program is popular, mainly because fewer Filipinos are victims of crime in general and most attribute that to the anti-drug operations.

Drugs are still a problem because imports of heroin and meth from Burma (the Golden Triangle) and cocaine from South America continue, as well as a growing number of synthetic drugs from China. The smugglers and dealers are now a lot more discreet and harder for the police, and even many potential customers, to find. About 40 percent of communities report that they have no visible drug problems and many more communities are headed in that direction.

Libertarians say we should be able to take whatever drugs we want, because it is a victimless “crime” and our choice. I’m inclined to agree. If I want to take something, what business is it of the state or anyone else to interfere?

On the other hand, free will is an illusion. Drugs destroy free will. They take over, and an addict is a very different person from their pre-addicted self. Once you’re addicted, you’re no longer an individual at liberty, no longer sovereign in your own body. You are under the control of the drug.

My brother became a druggie, which turned him into someone else. He broke free and stayed sober, but the drugs had wrecked him and he eventually committed suicide. So society — perhaps via the state — does have a legitimate interest or role in making it difficult to fall into the addiction trap, of protecting the unwary from a nasty con.

Interesting to see that Duterte’s policies are working. The reduction in general crime is worth a lot. Maybe tough tactics are required once addictive drugs take hold in a society. Anything less hasn’t really “worked,” but maybe there is anther cure.