Gov't urged to adopt health-based approach in drug war

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2018 09:52 AM

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MANILA - A punitive approach in combating the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country will not resolve the problem, members of the academe said Thursday, citing evidence from their own study that was published recently. 

Ronald Mendoza, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said a study they did on the war on drugs revealed that a health-based approach that involves the local government and the community is more effective in fighting illegal drugs.

"Going after this punitive approach based on international evidence, and based on our own evidence, does not work. We must find other ways," he told ANC Early Edition.

Lawyer Michael Yusingco, a research fellow at the Ateneo School of Government, said the local government must step up and spearhead health-based programs to combat the illegal drug problem in their respective areas.

"Local governments need to step up. They need to focus on the welfare of their constituents rather than the punitive approach. The communities themselves need to demand this from their leaders," Yusingco said. 

Mendoza and Yusingco are part of the inter-university team behind the study on publicly available data on drug-related deaths under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, which revealed that most of the fatalities in the drug war were poor.

The study, which used data from the media and various non-profit groups, focused on the 5,021 drug-related killings from May 10, 2016 to September 29, 2017. May 10 is the day Duterte won the presidential elections.

Two-hundred twenty three (223) of the victims--whose jobs were identified in the study--were either tricycle, pedicab, or jeepney drivers, barkers, construction workers, vendors, farmers, or garbage collectors.

Malacañang assailed the study, with Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque saying it only collated media reports, which can be deemed as secondary material, without verifying if the victims were indeed killed because of drugs.

Dean Mendoza, in response, said the government must be more transparent with data on the drug war. He said they are only trying to help the government by analyzing data sets that are publicly available.

"I think that is a never ending discussion and that will not be settled until the government improves its transparency and improves its release of data and the veracity of the data," he said.