The Enemy In The Dark

Text and photos by Basilio Sepe

In 2016, Rodrigo Roa Duterte became the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines. As head of state, he is also the head of government, and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As chief executive, the President exercises control over all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. His mission was to make the country free from drugs and criminality.

Duterte’s victory in the 2016 national elections was built on the back of promises to eliminate the drug problem in the country. The centerpiece of his program of government is suppressing three evils: crime, illegal drugs and corruption. He believes these are the problems holding back the growth of the economy.

To instill law and order, the president launched a war against criminals, drug lords and corrupt government officials using the forces under his disposal – the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

However, some people call the war a ‘war against the poor’ because most of the killings occur in poor areas of the city.

Since taking power, his mantra of making the country free from illegal drugs and criminality at any cost has been unchanged. More than six months into his term, the government’s anti-narcotics drive has resulted in more than 8,000 deaths.

The president even went as far as to declaring the innocents killed in his war on drugs as collateral damage, either dying during encounters with local authorities or being killed by unidentified gunmen.

According to an article published by the International Business Times, “Drug use is often a symptom of social problems, not their cause.”

Ever since the drug war started, the reality is that the poor are always the one affected. People who are killed by the police and hundreds more summarily executed by unknown assailants were not even drug lords, but either small time dealers selling shabu (also known as methamphetamine) or light drug users who would occasionally scrape together enough money thinking that this is their escape out of poverty.

The worst part is that some of them may not be involved in drugs at all. The odds are high that these people may have just made very powerful enemies, who want to use the “war on drugs” to eliminate their opponents.

There is a much bigger enemy hiding in the dark, and we do not realize that we are letting this enemy prevail until it is too late.

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