Many Filipinos are celebrating their country’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council after a barrage of black propaganda has been heaped on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for his serious approach to the problem of narcotics proliferation and the related phenomena of narco-terrorism and savagely violent crime. While Duterte’s war on drugs continues to be widely misunderstood outside of south east Asia, the uncontested re-election of The Philippines to the Human Rights Council along with recent statements condemning the proliferation of narcotics by UN Secretary General General António Guterres and US President Donald Trump, have given many Filipinos a sense of optimism that one of President Duterte’s key security concerns is now being addressed at an international level by globally known figures.
One of the biggest issues regarding the misunderstanding of Duterte’s war on narcotics is the fake news indicating that Duterte has given “shoot to kill” orders against all active narcotics users. This is far from the truth. Duterte has offered a de-facto amnesty to all dealers, users and traffickers stating that if they turn their backs on their filthy, dangerous and illegal habits, they can lead a normal life like anyone else. Furthermore, in the event of an arrest, Duterte has continually instructed police and other law enforcement officials to only use lethal force if their own safety or that of innocent bystanders is endangered due to the ultra-violence of users of the horrific drug Shabu.
Below are points previously outlined in Eurasia Future that supporters of President Duterte should explain to those who have been subject to the malicious defamation campaign against the popular Philippine President:
“For those in the west where marijuana legalisation is becoming increasingly common and therefore associate Duterte’s drug war with some sort of 20th century US style war on marijuana, one should note that the drug problem in The Philippines centres around a particularly potent and explicitly dangerous form of meth known as Shabu. Individuals on Shabu are a danger not only to themselves but to their families and strangers. Shabu takers are widely known and feared due to the fact they commit the most gruesome crimes against humanity throughout the nation.
From armed theft to random murder and breaking into family homes and raping everything from infants to the elderly, those on Shabu are transformed into horrific monsters that no society should have to deal with. This is a far cry from the ‘weed culture’ of certain countries and to this end, Duterte has voiced a position in favour of legalising medical marijuana.
But when it comes to hard drugs like Shabu which have turned once peaceful towns and cities into war zones reminiscent of something in Yemen or Syria, Duterte has taken a zero-tolerance, hands on approach to the drug problem which remains one of his most popular policies in a country crying out for human rights for the normal law abiding citizens.
It should be further stated that Duterte has never given so-called “shoot to kill orders” but has insisted that when a suspect is a clear and present danger to those around him, police and civilians have the right to restrain a dangerous individual with lethal force as a last resort in order to avoid the bloodshed of innocent people. Duterte has further expanded rehabilitation programs for those who voluntarily turn themselves in or are peacefully apprehended- thus proving that the “death squad” narrative is not only taken out of context but is totally misrepresented by many so-called journalists.
Finally, as the Shabu trade fuels violent armed gangs of mafioso warlords as well as terrorist groups ranging from the far-left NPA to Takfiri groups aligned with Daesh (ISIS), Duterte has done a service to the wider global war against terrorism by attacking a crucial funding source for barbaric terrorism”.
With this in mind, it becomes clear why most Filipino voters continue to support their President and continue to support his holistic approach to tackling all of the forms of violent crime and terrorism that are a direct outgrowth of the narcotics trade.
During his most recent State of The Nation Address, Duterte affirmed his unwavering stance in the war on drugs. Addressing his Liberal (aka yellow) opponents, Duterte said:
“If you think I can be dissuaded from my drug war…by protests which I believe are misdirected, then you’ve got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights – mine is human lives”.
Of course the protection of human life is the penultimate human right, while the guarantee to live in peace and freedom that is enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights is demonstrably incompatible with living among narco-criminals. Duterte is in fact a champion of human rights because he wants to preside over a nation where young children can walk to school without being kidnapped or molested by narco-gangsters. Duterte wants to live in a society where women can walk alone without being subjected to violent sexual assault from Shabu users. Duterte wants all Filipinos to live comfortably in their homes without the threat of mad Shabu users committing arson, theft and murder against civilians in the way that groups like Daesh do in parts of the Middle East. Sadly, all of these aforementioned devious acts are features of the Shabu culture that Duterte continues to confront with extreme seriousness.
The horrific violence associating with narcotics ought to be an issue taken seriously by the United Nations Human Rights Council and as such, the UN must declare that the right to live in a narcotics free society is not just a noble goal but an inalienable human right. As such, just as the UN works with its member states to combat intentional terrorism, poverty and the lack of clean water and medicine across the world, so too should the UN and its associated organisations work alongside its member states to help multiple nations from the US superpower to the poorest African nations to combat the universal scourge of narcotics.
As the man who has become the symbol of a new era in tackling drug related criminality, Duterte’s message to the world should be delivered by his envoys to the UN loudly and clearly. Far from being a “human rights violator” Duterte is helping to shed light on the fact that societies infested with narcotics are societies where the human rights of all people are threatened.
This is the proper way to move forward and to finally determine if the United Nations is able to live up to its high ideals in an increasingly challenging time for global security.