Forcing a western style liberal approach in solving the Philippine drug menace may not work for us

Photo of a Filipino illegal drug user.

Photo of a Filipino illegal drug user.

The on-going war on drugs in the Philippines is a hot topic nowadays. Supporters of the country’s new President (Rodrigo Duterte) have hailed the energized efforts of the government to put a stop to this drug menace plaguing the country while detractors of the President have cried foul over the bloodbath that has resulted and purported disregard of due process in the President’s ways. While people seem to be united in wanting to stop illegal drug addiction and its proliferation, the division seems to lie in the means to achieve the end. Duterte detractors feel that the all-out war being waged is not only morally wrong but also unsustainable. Indeed, evidence has shown that the many years of war on drugs in the Philippines as well as in other countries have not achieved the success hoped for. Many even view it as a failure. In light of this, there have been many alternatives taken and considered, including the legalization of narcotics and/or decriminalization of narcotics possession and use in small amounts. Let us look at such alternatives and see if these will work for us.


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A Facebook friend of mine told me that the inelastic demand for illegal drugs has made the drug trade strong. He argues that:

“Making it illegal just drives it at obscene levels of revenue. Revenue that cartels will protect at all cost. Case in point, the Prohibition era giving us the mafia like Al Capone. This is why decriminalization and regulation appears to be a solution to this gordian knot of organized crime.”

First of all, I think he raises a valid point. We can certainly learn from history, particularly during the Prohibition era in the United States, about the futility of criminalizing an in-demand commodity such as alcohol. However, I would also argue that we may be comparing two different things here. The Prohibition era was about alcohol but our present case is narcotics like crystal meth (a.k.a. shabu). Crystal meth is a highly addictive and extremely harmful mind-altering drug when abused. Alcohol, although also potentially harmful when abused, has been integrated into people’s lives even before the Prohibition era. As Dr. Deni Carise, Chief Medical Officer of the Phoenix House has argued that drugs:

“…has never been integrated into the daily life of healthy humans in the way that alcohol has. Scientifically, too, alcohol and other intoxicants are just not the same. Unless you’re a recovering addict, a glass of wine per day is absolutely not going to hurt you, and we’ve even seen evidence of minor medical benefits from light drinking. The same cannot be said of illegal drugs—imagine having a little bit of heroin each night with your dinner!”

Another difference between alcohol and drugs is the consumption intent and intoxication for them. Political commentator Morton Kondracke points out that in America, of the 115 million people who consume alcohol, 85% rarely become intoxicated. With consumption of illegal drugs, intoxication is the whole idea!

Another rationale for the legalization of illegal drugs is the potential revenue it can bring to the government coffers. This seems like an attractive outcome. There certainly is a lot of money going to our treasury through “sin taxes” from products like alcohol and tobacco. Narcotics can certainly add to the pot instead of the pockets of organized crime figures. But if we go back to the lessons of the Prohibition era, Kondracke points out that:

“… prohibition is a useful historical parallel for measuring the costs of legalization. Almost certainly doctors are not going to want to write prescriptions for recreational use of harmful substances, so if drugs even are legalized they will be dispensed as alcohol now is—in government-regulated stores with restrictions on the age of buyers, warnings against abuse (and probably, with added restrictions on amounts, though this also will create a black market).”

Granting that in the Philippines, alcohol and tobacco can liberally be bought in every street corner store, imagine if this were the case for narcotics as well? Even if the government were to regulate the packaging and distribution of, say, crystal meth and limit the dosage per package to the maximum safe therapeutic level (e.g. safe therapeutic dosage of metamphetamine for narcolepsy treatment is 60mg per day maximum) and even if the dispensation of this drug can only be done by accredited pharmacies, what measures can we have to prevent this highly addictive drug from being abused? With such a tight restriction to obtain this drug, is it too farfetched to think that we would only create a black market for this? Wouldn’t organized crime still operate in the drug trade, albeit restrictedly, and profit from it?

I do not think legalization is the way to go.

Decriminalization using the Portuguese Model

I have heard of the claimed success of decriminalizing narcotics possession in Portugal. Please note that there is a difference between legalizing and decriminalizing here. In Portugal, use and possession of drugs for personal use is still illegal but the penalty is merely administrative rather than criminal. This means that instead of being charged for a crime, the offender (someone caught with less than a ten day supply of the drug) is asked to go to rehab or do community service instead of being jailed.

The Portuguese model seems very attractive. Not only has it received so many praises worldwide, their approach sounds very kind indeed. But one of the problems that I see in the arguments of the proponents of the Portuguese model is that these folks may be comparing apples and oranges. Although both countries are socially conservative (predominantly Catholic population), there are also lots of differences that may affect how effective the model is if it were to be applied in the Philippines.

For instance, Portugal only has roughly 10% of the Philippines’ population and a glaring difference in average income per person (Portugal has $22,900 GDP vs $4,700 GDP). The Portuguese model, from what I understand, looks at drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal one. Thus, instead of incarceration, drug addicts are treated courtesy of the Portuguese government free of charge. Here is one question, though: With the Philippines having such a low tax base ($4,700 GDP), can we really expect the Philippine government to be able to sustain the Portuguese model’s infrastructure to support such a measure?

The Portuguese model has an expansive drug treatment. According to Wikipedia:

“Healthcare for drug users in Portugal is organised mainly through the public network services of treatment for illicit substance dependence, under the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, and the Ministry of Health. In addition to public services, certification and protocols between NGOs and other public or private treatment services ensure a wide access to quality-controlled services encompassing several treatment modalities. The public services provided are free of charge and accessible to all drug users who seek treatment.

There are 73 specialised treatment facilities (public and certified private therapeutic communities), 14 detoxification units, 70 public outpatient facilities and 13 accredited day centres. Portugal is divided into 18 districts. There is full coverage of drug outpatient treatment across all but four districts (districts not covered are located in the north of the country: Viana do Castelo, Bragança, Viseu and Guarda).”

In addition, the Portuguese model also includes what is called a “Substitution Treatment”. The idea behind this approach is that a substitute substance is given to the drug addicts until they get fully treated. So instead of heroin, drug addicts are given methadone or buprenorphine.

Now if we are going to treat drug addiction as a disease and take it as a health issue, does this mean that the taxpayers would need to shoulder the cost of building the infrastructure needed for the program and its maintenance, as well as medication to support the substitution treatment? In 2012 alone, the Dangerous Drugs Board already estimated that 1.7 million Filipinos are hooked on drugs (with Shabu having the highest abuse rate). I wonder how much this will affect the limited budget we have to allocate for our other immediate needs such as education, public works, transportation, as well as infrastructure development and maintenance? So where are we going to get the money for the application of the Portuguese model in the Philippines? If we are to allocate a huge chunk of our budget for this, which of the programs we are currently supporting are we willing to make sacrifices on? Will it be education? Public works and highways? Energy?

The Portuguese model, with all its praises and purported glory, also has its downside. The claim that decriminalization has decreased narcotics consumption is very debatable. Boston Globe reporter Keith O’Brien notes:

“But the numbers aren’t all positive. According to the latest report by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the number of Portuguese aged 15 to 64 who have ever tried illegal drugs has climbed from 7.8 percent in 2001 to 12 percent in 2007. The percentage of people who have tried cannabis, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, ecstasy, and LSD all increased in that time frame. Cannabis use, according to the drug report, has gone up from 7.6 to 11.7 percent. Heroin use jumped from 0.7 to 1.1 percent, and cocaine use nearly doubled — from 0.9 to 1.9 percent.”

In addition, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) reported that among school children:

“…survey results for 2011 showed that lifetime prevalence of cannabis use was 16 % (13 % in 2007; 15 % in 2003; 8 % in 1999). Lifetime prevalence for inhalants was 6 % (4 % in 2007; 8 % in 2003; 3 % in 1999), and for all other substances lifetime prevalence was reported at 3 %. The results indicated 16 % for last year prevalence of cannabis use (10 % in 2007; 13 % in 2003; 9 % in 1999), and 9 % for last month prevalence (6 % in 2007; 8 % in 2003; 5 % in 1999).”

So as we can see, despite all the praises we have been hearing (and the glorification from various Facebook memes) about the Portuguese model, school children may be very vulnerable to drug use and abuse as seen from empirical data showing an increase in illicit substances among students in Portugal. Although we may hope to see a decrease in dead bodies in our TV screens when watching TV Patrol by applying the Portuguese model, we may end up risking more of our young to into trying drugs! Stanford Psychiatry professor Keith Humphreys says of the result that:

“What it says to me is that when you decriminalize, use goes up — potentially dramatically, … You can see a doubling of cocaine use, a doubling of heroin use. And because drug use carries some risk — no one disputes that — it becomes inevitable that as use goes up, more people will get hurt.”

No Silver Bullet

This article is not meant to suggest that we ought to just gun down all drug addicts and drug dealers at a drop of a pen. What I am saying is that we should take a pause for a moment and re-think what we say whenever we jump into embracing one magic model or formula to approach a problem like the drug menace. Like many problems in life, there is no one silver bullet that can wipe them all out. Singapore seems to have figured this out when it adopted a combination of approaches. It employs “a comprehensive national strategy to combat the scourge of drugs, comprising a high-profile public education campaign, treatment and rehabilitation of drug offenders, as well as strict laws and stiff penalties against those involved in the drug trade.” So basically it pursues prevention through educational campaign and rehabilitation programs while still applying strict punitive measures (including the death penalty) to drug traffickers and unmanageable drug addicts. Michael Teo, Singapore’s High Commissioner to the Court claims that:

“Public education against drug abuse starts in schools. For abusers, our approach is to try hard to wean them off drugs and deter them from relapsing. They are given two chances in a drug rehabilitation centre. If they go through counselling, kick their drug habit and return to society with useful skills, they will not have any criminal record. Those who are still addicted go to prison, where they are put on general rehabilitation programmes to help them reintegrate into the community.

Strong community support against drug abuse has been critical to our fight against drugs. Singapore society resolutely rejects drug abuse. Several voluntary welfare organisations run halfway houses to help recovering addicts adjust back into society. Many employers also come forward to offer reformed drug addicts employment opportunities.

Drug traffickers are a major part of the problem on the supply side. They make drugs available in our communities and profit from the human misery they help create. This is why tough laws and penalties are needed, including capital punishment for trafficking in significant amounts of the most harmful drugs. This sends a strong deterrent signal to would-be traffickers. But unfortunately, attracted by the lucrative payoffs, some still traffic in drugs knowing full well the penalty if they get caught.

With all these efforts, Singapore has one of the lowest prevalence of drug abuse worldwide, even though it has not been entirely eliminated. Over two decades, the number of drug abusers arrested each year has declined by two-thirds, from over 6,000 in the early 1990s to about 2,000 last year. Fewer than two in 10 abusers released from prison or drug rehabilitation centres relapse within two years. We do not have traffickers pushing drugs openly in the streets, nor do we need to run needle exchange centres. Because of our strict laws, Singapore does not have to contend with major drug syndicates linked to organised crime, unlike some other countries.”

On the right track

President Duterte may very well be on the right track with his approach in tackling the drug menace in the Philippines. While he has been vicious and relentless in the war on drugs he is waging, he has publicly denounced extrajudicial killings. In addition to cutting the “apparatus” that is being used by the (foreign and big time) sources of illegal drugs in the narcotics proliferation in the country, his plan includes establishment of bigger rehabilitation centers for drug dependents as well as putting recalcitrant drug addicts in military or “barracks” type camps. He said:

“We cannot build a nation by killing people over the bodies of your fellow citizens but I’ll have to control. So ‘yung sira na, you have to check with them if they are talagang ma-resuscitate pa, ika nga. Lagay na lang natin sila diyan … Yung recalcitrants or those guys na ayaw talagang magpakulong or are no longer of service to humanity because they are — padala na lang natin doon.”

(English trans.: “We cannot build a nation by killing people over the bodies of your fellow citizens but I’ll have to control. Those who are already severely damaged, you have to check with them if they are still able to be resuscitated, so to speak. Let’s just put them there … The recalcitrants or those guys who refuse to be taken in or are no longer of service to humanity because they are — let’s just send all of them there”.

Duterte defends compulsory confinement of drug addicts by comparing it with compulsory confinement of insane people. He said:

“We don’t need any legal basis. The legal basis is we take him in for his own protection. That’s why we are allowed to arrest insane people for compulsory confinement. Why? It is to protect him from harm and to protect the public.”

Proponents of western (liberal) style approach like the Portuguese model and idealistic adherence to liberal democracy may very well be missing a very important point. As Michael Teo has pointed out:

“Liberal democracy works for the west – but not in south-east Asia, we have different views.

Every society has to strike its own balance between individual liberties and the common good. Some in the west like John Kampfner feel a calling to go forth and convert the heathen to western liberal democracy. But the true test is what works in the real world, with real societies. To worship a western model as the only way, and dismiss all other solutions as authoritarian or undemocratic, is surely the ultimate anaesthetic for the brain.”

Amen to that, indeed.

(Photo from

38 Replies to “Forcing a western style liberal approach in solving the Philippine drug menace may not work for us”

  1. Question: Wouldn’t the supposed increase in reported drug use in Portugal be more reflective of the societal stigma of drug use? If a person admits that they’re a drug user and checks themselves in for help, that’s still technically making them a statistic as well.

    Also, I thought Singapore’s laws were three strikes mandatory jail time for a single urine positive test.

  2. the detractors of duterte the drug lords are in a defensive mode because they knew the crimes they committed is punishable by treason. but the citizens want them exterminated for sure. would they rise up and do their own prosecution? i don’t think so.

    1. You off your meds?
      How does this article and your statement correlate?

      Is the ” war on poor citizens” winnable?

      Does defaming people publicly with zero evidence mean a single thing?
      Other than breaking defamation laws.( any lawyer here that says that this is not the case should be known to be questionable on wether or not they passed the bar exam).
      Are the majority of citizens really calling for blood?
      Or just a small minority of keyboard warriors most of whom would ” yellow out’ if they personally had to take someone life.

      The end never justifies the means.
      This is not a movie. This is real life with real people’s lives in the balance.
      For every innocent that is killed from this ” war on poor people” the people that are screaming for blood are just as guilty as those that pull the trigger.

      There is zero evidence that harsh laws stop drugs.
      There is zero evidence that harsh laws stop crime.

      Addressing poverty, lack of skills with in the work force, lack of jobs for unskilled civilians and the lack of education within a country is what reduces crime and drug use.

      These are not opions. These are facts.
      The so called quick fix will give the philippines more problems long term.
      There has been zero long term policies.
      Shoot to kill orders are draconian at best and immoral, unjust and criminally insane at the worst.

      there is no truer statement then george carlines.
      ” never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”

      The war on drugs is a war on poor people. Only way to win is to erradicate and cull poor people. The rich can afford lawyers and get to hang out in camp crane.


      2. I’m afraid it’s TheVoiceofReason who is off his medication. His grandiose vision of a utopian “Garden of Eden” is reflected in his rhetoric.

        1. “Garden of eden”
          You honestly think there can be a utopian perfection in any human populace?
          There will always be crime.
          There will always be hate.
          There will always be haters.
          Its the thinkers and people with actual vision that are always put down and yelled to the side.

          Tell me..what part of my ” rhetoric “above that u r referring to?

          How can my statement above refelct anything resembling your ” garden of eden” comment?
          You can do better than this surely.
          Do not say im wrong or make up stories…prove im wrong.

    1. in singapore if u go overseas to a country where drugs ate legal, consume then go back to singapore, are drug tested at the airport, you are jailed for one year even if the drugs were not taken in singapore.

      Their drug laws are draconian and are condemned by international agencies.

      Singapore is not a country anyone should want to emmulate. They are a police state with very little freedom.

  3. Those of us who are all too familiar with how Pinoys abuse rights, privileges, and what is “permissible”, shudder to think about the consequences of either legalizing or decriminalizing drugs in the local setting.

    It would be like giving a kid the keys to a candy store and telling him/her to “help yourself”. What’s worse, the kid doesn’t have a sense of moderation, responsibility, and of what’s detrimental to him/her; all he/she knows is that he wants his/her fix/rush and his/her addiction fed/sated.

    1. Sounds like the sky is fallng.
      Marijuana should be legallized.
      There is a lot of very real evidence that in doing so it reduces people using harder drugs, lowers crime and boosts economic growth.
      All you are selling is fear with zero evidence to back it up.

      Pre the american drug war marijuana was used extensively throughout the philippines.
      Meth or shaboo should remain illegal but more effort put into rehabilitation and education.
      Stop killing the user and start arresting the suppliers and manufacturers.

      All you are doing in your statement is further spreading the lies about drug users that have zero factual evidence.
      And are linked to propaganda from statesmen that have used the war on drugs and the fear it incites to further reach their political goals.

      Facts versus opinions. You obviously have a brain and the ability to use the internet. Go educate yourself on a subject you have obviously zero knowledge on and return when you are properly informed.

  4. Hector,

    First off, I’d like to ask what race has to do with legalisation? Or economic status for that matter?

    You asked

    With such a tight restriction to obtain this drug, is it too farfetched to think that we would only create a black market for this? Wouldn’t organized crime still operate in the drug trade, albeit restrictedly, and profit from it?

    I do not think legalization is the way to go.

    Have you looked at the effects of legalisation efforts where they have been actually implemented? Not in a theoretical manner or thought experiment carried out in a classroom.

    Prohibition did not only create a black market for illegally imported liquor, it also caused the proliferation of poor quality, and in some cases, deadly, alcoholic beverages. These homemade brews were often made with alcohol not fit for imbibing (such as wood alcohol and other alcohols intended for medical use) and other dangerous ingredients. Many Prohibition-era cocktails, far from being the more culinary-minded treasures created before and since, were developed with the intent of masking the flavor of these ‘bathtub gins,’ either for the sake of covering up an unpleasant taste or, more ominously, to cover up flavors that would signal that the drink could lead to illness or death.

    Legalisation, via the repeal of Prohibition, led the way to creating standards for producing alcoholic beverages. And all but removed the possibility of permanent injury and death from poisonous bootleg gin.

    Just as legalising, and regulating, currently illegal narcotics is more likely to ensure that dangerous ingredients don’t find their way into the manufacturing process.

    How would legalisation affect the existing narcotics black market? You should ask the Mexican drug cartels.

    Marijuana growers in Mexico have seen their profits drop dramatically. Since 2012 the price of a kilo of marijuana has dropped from US$100 to US$40-30. Mexican growers are worried that the competition (in terms of price, availability and quality) from legal producers and distributors in the US will drive them into the ground.

    And it isn’t just anecdotal evidence that suggests legalisation is putting the cartels out of business. The latest data from the U.S. Border Patrol shows that in 2015, marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled to their lowest level in at least a decade. Agents seized roughly 1.5 million pounds of marijuana at the border, down from a peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009. There are even instances where US marijuana is finding a market in Mexico.

    The cartels, of course, are adapting to the new reality. Seizure data also appears to indicate that with marijuana profits tumbling, they’re switching over to heroin and meth. And moving to areas where those drugs are still illegal and where the so-called ‘war on drugs’ is still in full swing. Like the Philippines.

    1. Hi JS,

      You are speaking about marijuana. Marijuana is a far cry from crack cocaine or shabu. While marijuana may have some medical purposes, the use of shabu is purely for intoxication purposes. A crack addict won’t stick with, say, the safe therapeutic dose for metamphetamine in the treatment of narcolepsy or ADHD. The risk for abuse will be so high. While abuse of marijuana can get someone stoned or spaced out, drugs like shabu or even in its refined and high quality prescription metamphetamine form is seriously mind-altering. Legalizing such intoxicants, I would argue, will give us more legislations especially because it will be a controlled drug. Allowing its proliferation, even legal, poses greater risks to health and society. I don’t think we can really make an equivalent comparison with alcohol and even marijuana for cases like shabu and heroin. Thanks for reading!

      1. Other then ancedotal evidence from your own opinions, do you have any data to back up your opinions?

        Marijuana might have some medical uses?
        Who cares, it destresses people which is all drugs primary medical benefit.
        Infact there is very real evidence to suggest we evolved purely because of drug use.

        There is zero evidence drug laws work.
        Zero evidence that harsh penalities work.
        There is a hige ammount of evidence that what Johhny Saint proposed not only works, it leads to exactly what the war on drugs wants to.
        Just without the sky is fallng bullshit opinions of people with zero education in the matter.
        Honestly if the world was run on facts not fear and opinions the world would be running fine.

        1. “Other then ancedotal evidence from your own opinions, do you have any data to back up your opinions?”

          Why don’t you apply that to your own worthless opinion. since the author has already given actual quantitative data to support his arguments. You on other hand, have never given one iota of measurable evidence for your opinions, as can be seen by your numerous worthless comments.

        2. But i have. Constantly.
          With links and all.
          Nothing you yourself could not find with a quick use of any search engine.

          I am unaware on how filipinos seem to think they are different from any other human in the world.
          They are no different.
          Yes this nation is young as a democracy and as ruling its own people.
          But blaming the past does not fix the present.
          This whole sky is falling, straw man argument is what lead the world 80 years ago n a quest to eradicate drugs.
          Longest war in history.
          Who is winning?
          Not people enforcing draconian laws against their own people. Thats for sure.
          Rising crime from addicts has not been linked to drugs but the war on drugs.
          i know ” tell it like it is” disagrees that crime is linked to poverty but that is the one link that does have a relationship to crime.
          Im not making this up.
          Im not citing it from a movie.
          I have linked in previous statements articles backing this up.

          I do appreciate hectors attempt to rationalize ” his” opinion a
          On why he thinks filipinos are a different kind of human.
          But we are not.
          People spend their lives trying to find what makes different races different.
          Truth of the matter there is not a lot.
          We all have the same hopes, dreams and drive.
          To further the narrative the filipinos are somehow different to other peopke is to further bullshit the people.
          When people from here go overseas they see how not different anyone truly is.
          You guys think u need a dictator.
          I know you need to opposite.
          But firstly a police force free from corruption and a legal system that actually works is the true first thing that will help the rp move forward.
          Decriminalizing drugs, legallizing marijuana and investing in more education and help for those dealing with addiction.
          More jobs would help too.

      2. Hi Hector,

        I have to take exception with your position that the situation (with respect to ‘meth’ or ‘shabu’) is exceptional.

        How did you come to that conclusion?

        Marijuana and meth (and even alcohol) are psychoactive substances which have nefarious reputations. A black market emerged around each of them in the wake of their designation as being illegal and dangerous. This illegal trade was violent and deadly not only to those who participated directly in it but also to those on the periphery who got caught in the crossfire. In countries such as Mexico and Colombia, the illegal narcotics trade has grown to the point that it has challenged the legitimacy of those states. And, as ‘TheVoiceofReason’ has mentioned, imposing a harsher, ever escalating legal regimen and employing military-style tactics did not curb, much less eliminate, the problem. Instead it paved the way for even more vicious criminal gangs responsible for literally thousands of gruesome murders.

        With the advent of de-criminalisation and legalisation, there’s little violence to be had when you go out to get a drink. Because alcohol is legal. Prohibition which forbade liquor sales also gave the US Al Capone and made organised crime families powerful. The murder rate dropped when Prohibition was repealed.

        In the same vein, violent Mexican cartels became rich and powerful transporting their product north. To-day, they face the prospect of going out of business because US growers are selling selling higher-quality marijuana to Mexico and the Caribbean.

        If legal, free market trade can eliminate the violent black market for two psychoactives/intoxicants, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that the same might be accomplished by applying the same strategy to the current ‘irredeemably evil’ drug of the moment — methamphetamine?

        1. You are completely right.
          Just a hell of a lot more articulated then I.

          The reason i say decriminalize all drugs and legalize marijuana first, is so people see the sky does not fall.
          It does not lead to the zombie apocalypse and people that have substance abuse problems, just like alcoholics and gambling addicts can get real help without the stigma of being ostracized from the community.

          Fear is what drives people though. Not hope.
          Humans are all the same.
          The current administration preached fear and he was the only answer.
          People here do not want peace. They do not want security. They want people to pay. They want not justice but revenge.
          Its a very sad state of affairs.
          But yes, its proven legalizing prohibited substances stops the very crime they were associated with.
          How hard is it for people to see that….because they have been lead to their opinions through fear.
          Not back by facts.

        2. Hi JS,

          I think much of the points you raised are better for me to respond to in another article. Raincheck ok?


      3. Hi again.

        Just a follow up to my earlier response regarding the de-criminalisation and legalisation of ‘meth’ — I have some questions about the data you cited.

        You said

        In 2012 alone, the Dangerous Drugs Board already estimated that 1.7 million Filipinos are hooked on drugs (with Shabu having the highest abuse rate).

        The DDB’s latest estimate (2013) is that there could be 1.3 million drug users in the Philippines. That’s 23.53 percent lower than the 2012 estimate. That should be encouraging. It indicates a drop in the number of drug users. Even before the Duterte administration’s ‘war on drugs.’

        With regards to the data from the ‘Boston Globe’ that covers the period from 2001 to 2007 — there is nothing which proves a higher rate of use/addiction prevails in general or that the use/addiction to ‘meth’ is particularly pernicious since Portugal de-criminalised drug use in 2001. In fact, the OPPOSITE is more likely.

        When Portugal decided to decriminalize in 2000, many skeptics assumed that the number of users would skyrocket. That did not happen. Initially, the reported number of users did increase. However, that is attributable to the fact that by removing the stigma of drug use and/or addiction, more Portuguese publicly admitted their use/addiction. With some exceptions, including a marginal increase among adolescents, drug use has fallen over the past 15 years and now ebbs and flows within overall trends in Europe.

        The rate of new HIV infections in Portugal has fallen precipitously since 2001, the year de-criminalisation took effect, declining from 1,016 cases to only 56 in 2012. Overdose deaths decreased from 80 in 2001 to only 16 in 2012. In the US, by comparison, more than 14,000 people died in 2014 from prescription opioid overdoses alone. Portugal’s current drug-induced death rate, three per million residents, is more than five times lower than the European Union’s average of 17.3, according to figures from EMCDDA, the same agency cited by the Boston Globe article.

        Incidentally, cooperation by the local government officials, police and health workers to ensure drug users/addicts are monitored is one of the features of Portugal’s program. Akin to President Duterte’s approach of using the baranggay infrastructure to monitor drug users in their area.

        Clearly, some aspects of Portugal’s health care based approach to drug treatment are applicable outside of Lisbon.

  5. Great no non-sense properly backed-up article, unlike some detractors here who have nothing but worthless hot air.

    I myself do not fully approve of the methods being applied to curb the drug menace in this country, but what can you do, this is the reality and it’s not pretty. We don’t live in an ideal world, and while the Western world has better conditions wherein more ideal methods may very well work, the Third World is very different, and more drastic conditions demands more drastic measures. No amount of naive, misguided and worthless idealism is going to fix that, and the only way we’re ever going to fix things in a messed-up country is to get our hands dirty.

  6. sounds like there’s a bunch of marijuana users here ha! WHY LEGALIZED MARIJUANA IT’S A STEPPING STONE TO DANGEROUS DRUGS.

      1. NO! legalizing marijuana will boost hard drug use instead and makes the user lazy all year ’round like a monkey clinging on a branch with its tail.

        1. Do the last three presidents of the United States qualify as some of your lazy ‘monkeys?’

    1. Correlation does not mean causation.

      Research shows that the vast majority of marijuana users do not go on to use hard drugs. Most stop using after entering the adult social world of family and work. Some of them — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama come to mind — even go on to become president of their country.

      According to the US National Institutes of Health, poverty and poor social environment is a more likely cause of drug use.

      Associating with people who use drugs is more likely to induce impressionable adolescents to try hard drugs. Even alcohol and nicotine use are more likely to ‘prime’ the brain to respond to the effect of hard drugs. Also, mental illness and neurological disorders are more likely to predispose a person to drug use than trying marijuana.

      Please help spread empirical evidence about drugs use and addiction, while discouraging the dissemination of hysteria and hype.

  7. Wow, Singapore really figured it out. So it really has to be an all or nothing war on drugs, no falter, from bottom and top. Given that the moment you got hooked on drugs starting from the moment you try it out, you’re life is headed to the bin especially given that some of the worst crimes in our country are done by drug addicts (rape, murder, and massacre. They start with petty crime of stealing to support their addiction). It’s like putting a death sentence to self (and I may agree with the comment from other article that said ending an addict’s life could serve as a kind act before he could hurt himself (death by overdose or suicide submitting the family in life of guilt and woes) or harm other innocent people). But I know some people who were able to totally turn their back on it when they convert into Christianity (and I mean really. Them understanding what having a relationship with Jesus means). So if the church or any religion/liberal cult really cares about the lives of these people, they themselves should do a move to stop drug addiction and crime and not just cry “human rights” and “extrajudicial killings”. Start by educating, that will help the admin a lot.

    1. Singapore has one of the highest suicide rates and highest depression rates in the world.
      So no they have not figured it out..
      They just police stated their nation so its so sterile its like living in a fake bubble.

      When a country has such a high depression rate and suicide rate they obviously are not figuring shit out, just repressing people.

      1. Going by that stat alone, does that mean South Korea also police stated their nation as well?

        Just because Singapore is a ‘fine city’ doesn’t mean they’re repressing their own people. You’re just grasping on straws just to push your own agenda.

      2. With respect to drug menace in their country, they figured out what’s best to do.

        When a country has such a high depression rate and suicide rate they obviously are not figuring shit out, just repressing people.

        What’s the major cause of suicide and depression in SG?

  8. It is like the problem now in the Middle East. Western Democratic countries, like the U.S., thought that these countries who had been ruled by Dictators , for many years, will embrace Democracy, after the Dictator is gone…Now, they created more problems , like ISIS, terrorism,wars, religious sectarian violence, etc…

    Illegal Drugs called recreational drugs, are dangerous and highly addictive. They destroy the brain and the user, as a whole…

    As I read the web article, I believe that the illegal Drug rehabilitation program of Singapore, will work in the Philippines.

    I don’t believe in the legalization or decriminalization of Shabu or other illegal drugs. We don’t want a nation of addicts !

    Even if you legalize illegal drugs; the crime syndicates will be there. They will not go away. They will find other ways to make money !

    Thanks for the web article. It is very informative !

    1. But it does not create a nation of addicts.
      It cuts corruption from crime syndicates and increases tax revenues.
      It no longer becomes a cool sub culture and people get to really see the long term effects of being addicts and will have the proper funding and trainng to get off them and reclaim their lives.
      Most of the music you listen to, books you read and movies you idolize were created or starred by drug users.
      Infact there is hard evidence that we as a species evoloved through the use of psychedelics.
      The countries that have decriminalized and legalize drugs like marijuana have had nothing be positive outcomes.
      More so with each and every year.
      This approach the rp is trying has been done to DEATH.
      Most people thought the philippines was starting to improve, was ready to step into the international scene with dignity.
      In one foul move we have proved that not only are we not ready.
      We just do not care about our citizens or others at all,
      Plus now we have a president that openly calls ambassadors from other countries names.
      Or makes jokes about women being raped.
      I agree on some of dutertes plans. But i refuse to shut up about the ones that are poorly thought out.

  9. Oh yes, BRILLIANT. IT MIGHT NOT WORK, SO LET’s NOT EVEN TRY IT ! Filipino’s woul’d maybe figure out that nothing else is working…..


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