Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Anti-Drugs Deja Vu by Erick San juan


This three-month reign of perceived police terror left at least 2,274 people dead. The government and police implausibly ascribed the deaths to gangland feuding, insisting that only 42 drug suspects were shot by police officers ”most of those in self-defense". In fact, the government openly encouraged the police to carry out extra-judicial killings so that the arbitrary goals of its war on drugs could be met on time.

The Narcotics Control Board provided the indices: 1,765 people arrested as major drug dealers and another 15,244 as minor dealers. More than 280,000 drug pushers and addicts gave themselves up to authorities and were sent for rehabilitation. In all, some 15.5 million
pills were confiscated and the street price for the drug doubled or trebled over the course of the three months from February 1 to April 30.

Sounds familiar! In Thailand's 75 provinces, it reported that they had more than fulfilled their quota of reducing the number of drug dealers by 50 percent. In some cases, officials boasted of a 100 percent success rate that is, all drug dealers in their province either dead or detained. Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha claimed that 440 local officials and politicians, including two police colonels, had been dismissed because of links to drug trafficking.

The Thai government used a system of bribes and threats to ensure that regional governors and police chiefs carried out the campaign. Three lists were compiled: one by police; the second by local administrative organizations and village heads; and the last by the Narcotics Control Board. Officials who failed to meet their quotas faced dismissal. Those
who brought in a major drug dealer ”dead or alive” received a bounty of one million baht ($US23,600).

But just who has been arrested or gunned down is unclear, as the allegations against those on the blacklists have not been tested in a court of law. Those whose names appeared had no way of finding out the nature of the accusations against them. Terrified of being framed up or shot dead, thousands opted to hand themselves in and submit to a course of boot-camp style rehabilitation. (Source:  Susanne Ilchmann, May 9, 2003)

The above-mentioned scenario looks almost similar to what is happening in our country under the newly installed presidency of Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs. With the ever growing number of individuals surrendering to the authorities, from drug users to drug pushers, the current problem now is where to put these people for rehabilitation.

Even before the election day, several people involved in illegal drugs surrendered or face the consequences of being shot to death. The power of President Duterte's words against drug use and its proliferation in the society made them surrender. But for every popular campaign that might involve lives of people and its impact in the community has a
corresponding reaction, may it be positive or negative. In our case, and in Thailand under Prime Minister Thaksin, a former chief of police, the human rights advocates are the ones seeking justice for those who were victims of extrajudicial killings and summary executions.

This is one of the reasons for the ouster of Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (aside from other accusations like corruption and other government policies), to wit: The Nation (an English-language newspaper in Thailand) reported on November 27, 2007:

"Of 2,500 deaths in the government's war on drugs in 2003, a fact-finding panel has found that more than half was not involved in drug at all. At a brainstorming session, a representative from the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) disclosed that as many as 1,400 people were killed and labeled as drug suspects despite the fact that they had no link to drugs. ... Senior public prosecutor Kunlapon Ponlawan said it was not difficult to investigate extra-judicial killings carried out by police officers as the trigger-pullers usually confessed." (Wikipedia)

There were reports that Thailand's war on drugs ended up a failure after all until PM Thaksin's ouster in 2006. One factor to be considered seriously was the cross-border trafficking of drugs and the issue on drug lords.

Thailand's War on Drugs victory was temporary. PM Thaksin's campaign has decimated the drug market at the local drug trafficker and street-user level, but it has not reduced cross-border trafficking or attacked the drug trade's higher elements. Additionally, his battle against "Dark Influences" has been ineffective, with few arrests of note. Thailand's King has even tactfully admonished PM Thaksin for his ebullient trumpeting of a victory, when in fact the war is far from over. Burma and Laos are still major contributors to Thailand's drug problem, and most major Thai drug lords remain free. In fact, traffickers have simply changed routes or are storing their product in border areas awaiting a time for safe shipment.

While Thaksin's "war" has had a major impact on Thailand's drug problem, it should be viewed as a relatively successful campaign in a long war, and not as a victorious end to the war itself.(Ibid)

The international community is closely watching the ongoing war on drugs of Duterte's administration and there are global organizations (known for its hands on regime change of some nations) that are critical on its judgment that if you do not kowtow to its policies and so-called international standards, you are headed towards the exit door like what happened to our neighbor“ Thailand.

President Duterte has to act fast before his enemies could re-group and destroy him and his loop. Blackmail operation is on. Try to analyze some of the columnists hinting that the president and some of his trusted men have one way or another have links with the top honchos of the underworld.

Many hopes that the president's promise of getting the big fishes is for real. Act fast Mr. President and avoid a deja vu of Thaksin's downfall.

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