End the Drug War: Philippines President Duterte Says Kill All Drug Dealers

He's clearly "out of his mind".

Photo Credit: via Wikimedia

President Rodrigo Duterte,  the new leader of the Philippines is out of his mind. His method in solving the drug war is simple, curb demand and supply by killing off drug dealers. What if he continues his madness and wipes out thousands of suspected dealers and suddenly illegal drugs disappear from the streets of that country? 

A former prosecutor who ruled the court room with an iron fist, he easily scored a victory in May when he defeated his opponents and won the presidency of the Philippines. According to news reports his political platform was simple, he promised his people that he would look the other way and give law enforcement the power to kill criminals, especially suspected drug dealers. In the weeks following his victory cops went on a rampage and have murdered more than 100 people, mostly drug dealers

He has admitted that his way of dealing with crime might be on the borderline of being illegal, but the 71 year old President is making waves across the world with his methods. Not all Phillipinos agree with his vigilante tactics waged against criminals, especially from a group of concerned lawyers. What if he continues his madness and wipes out thousands of suspected dealers and suddenly illegal drugs start to disappear from the streets of that country? Would this behavior escalate and continue to be used? The government could go a step further and create purging holidays, where certain days, citizens could join in on the action and kill all illegal drug dealers. I think not, but you never know.

We have seen various types of get tough polices on crime in the past by politicians in the United States, especially in the war on drugs. Maybe they are not as tough as President Duterte, but used for political ploy and personal gain. Some politicians here have even called for the death penalty for drug dealers. This is nothing new, over thirty other countries have advocated for the use of the death penalty for drug smuggling according to the Economist. These include China, Iran and Indonesia. 

In my personal experience as a convicted drug dealer who was sentenced to two 15-year-to-life sentences for a non-violent crime under the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York State, I clearly see that killing drug dealers is not the answer to solving the problems associated with crime and the war on drugs. Individuals will always seek to get high on drugs, legal or illegal to escape reality in order to cope with their lives. And drug dealers will always be around to peddle their goods. The creation of very tough laws including the death penalty and vigilantism against drug dealers do not work. For example, in New York State, the Rockefeller Drug Laws were created in 1973 by then Governor Rockefeller who had political intentions to become president of the United States. The legislative intent at that time was to capture kingpins and curb the drug epidemic. But after thirty-five years of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of low level offenders, mostly Black and Latino, these laws were shown to be cost ineffective and a complete failure. These laws were historically revised in 2009 by then New York Governor David Paterson.

The methods used by President Duterte in fighting crime and curbing problems associated with the drug war in the Philippines are totally insane. To take human lives in the name of justice is despicable. It is hoped that they do not catch on and spread to other countries and Duterte comes to his senses before more tragedy occurs. It's one thing to be smart on crime, but another, to be totally ignorant about it.

Anthony Papa is the manager of media and artists relations for the Drug Policy Alliance. He is the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency.

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018