IF ONLY the 16 million Filipinos who voted for President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs knew that this was the only “change” they would end up receiving: a year of inconsolable deaths and unfulfilled promises.
More than 3500 people have been killed so far by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the grounds of suspected drug-use according to government figures. At least 2000 more have died due to the extra-judicial activities of vigilantes and hired killers.
But in these figures, there lies the biggest problem of all. Names have blurred into numbers, and human lives have turned into statistics – rising with every bullet shot. The streets that once witnessed our country’s march for freedom, have now been stained by blood.
Nevertheless, the most altering problem of all is when we let tragedies desensitize us. That is what makes the life of Kian delos Santos so important. It was his story and its tragic end that sparked the public’s outrage, and rightfully so.
He represented a promising future traded away for the violent whims of men in uniform. While the drug problem is a major issue in the Philippines, it should never have been fought at the expense of others’ lives.
Arguing that the war prevents future crimes done by suspected drug-pushers and users is an insufficient and exceedingly flawed reason to justify the human rights’ violation and loss of life it causes.
Every loss of life in this drug war is a reminder of how far we, as a nation, have lost all sense of human decency. Killing does not solve the root or effects of the drug problem; it only leads to a never-ending cycle of violence and death.
The government needs to recognize that peace can and will never be obtained with violence. There are better, more just, ways to prevent the damage left by drugs like strengthening the rehabilitation system or increasing education for children on the effects of drugs.
As such, it is our duty and desire to be able to stand up for what is right and break the impression that the public tolerates these killings and that they are justified. By all means, they are not, nor will they ever be.
In our eyes, this so-called war against drugs has turned into a fight for the very morality of this nation—a fight to regain our humanity.
Grade 11 students, PAREF Woodrose School