The hard-line president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, continues to unleash a barbarous approach to the drug users in his country and 6,775 deaths are reported since July of 2016, a result of both police brutality and vigilantes.
He was quoted by the Associated Press as having said: “Please feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have a gun, you have my support. Shoot them and I’ll give you a medal”. He is even alleged to have killed drug dealers himself.
One of the most shocking and high profile targets was Maria Aurora Moynihan, the daughter of the third Baron Moynihan (a peer in the House of Lords in the UK). It is rumoured that he left London in the 1970’s after being identified as a fraudster with his fingers in the supply of heroin from the Golden Triangle. His daughter, a meth user and possibly a dealer, was gunned down in the street and a poster left on her chest with the message ‘I am a drug dealer’ and a small amount of meth was found next to the body.
Addicts who do not want fall to the assassin’s bullets are to surrender at police stations and sign an agreement to never take illegal drugs again. The Filipino government, however, is falling woefully short in their efforts to help the so called ‘surrenderees’ who pledge to kick their habits, leaving almost all of them to battle addiction largely on their own. One initiative provides a once weekly police sponsored Zumba class and the country’s shockingly insufficient drug treatment facilities have been overwhelmed.
While the rest of the world is desperately trying to move in a direction which decriminalises addiction and classifies it as a mental health issue, the draconian approach of this Asian nation has been condemned by a wide variety of people including the Catholic Church, the United Nations and former U.S President, Barak Obama.
The only positive that can be taken from this utterly terrifying state of affairs is that more and more addicts are attending the self-help group Narcotics Anonymous, possibly their best hope in a fractured world. It was reported recently by a western member of NA, who visits the Philippines regularly for work, that the meetings were getting really big with the same people regularly attending looking for recovery.