Philippines: An Entreaty to End the Killing, to End the Poverty and Exclusion

July 2016

Halt to killings of People who Use Drugs in the Philippines

INPUD (the International Network of People who Use Drugs) and ANPUD (the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs) urgently request a halt be called on the killing of people who use drugs in the Philippines. We implore Your Excellency President Duterte to reconsider the current approach of executing people who use drugs in favour of internationally accepted, evidence-based alternatives.

 

Tolerance, Social Inclusion, and an End to Poverty

People who use drugs are not inherently evil. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandparents. We are people.  We care for our families and communities, and we are human beings, just as valuable and important in our contributions to society as all other citizens. The death of these people is avoidable, and will cause untold suffering and pain to their families and to the community as a whole.

 

Your Excellency President Duterte, we agree with you that it is very important to alleviate poverty and marginalisation, and to promote inclusive communities and families. As you know, drug use in the Philippines is particularly visible among the poor. Do those who are already disadvantaged deserve the further hardship of fear, persecution, and even death? You yourself have pledged to combat poverty in the Philippines. Increasing difficulty for the most marginalised and economically disenfranchised citizens, and their families and communities, is surely not what you desire.

 

We understand that you have not ordered extrajudicial killings; however, some of your words, suggesting people kill drug users in the streets, are being taken literally. The recent spate of killings is of great concern. We acknowledge your intention to find a rapid solution to drug use in the Philippines. However, in other countries where similarly heavy-handed approaches have been employed, including in the Asian region, only suffering and pain have resulted, with no progress made towards national objectives. Different approaches should be considered in order to realize a peaceful, secure, and stable Philippines that benefits all Filipinos.

 

Alternative Approaches

Instead of punishment and violence, we urge you to consider alternative systems of social support for people who use drugs. This approach sits within the public health framework of harm reduction, which seeks to use science and evidence to minimise the harms associated with drug use. This sits well also within your philosophy of reducing harm to society through reducing poverty and injustice. Your reputation as a guardian of the poor precedes you, Mr President, yet this approach of killing drug users will serve only to further marginalise and punish the poor.

 

We sincerely hope to find opportunity to discuss bold and effective solutions to poverty and social exclusion in the Philippines, and we entreat you, Mr President Duterte, to take a strong and forward-looking view on drugs that promotes a reduction of harm, an end to inequality, solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised, and an end to violence and discrimination. We urgently request that you call a halt to the extrajudicial killing of people, and entreat you instead to set science-based standards for a healthy, productive, and prosperous Philippines, both our aim and yours.

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If you would like to take action, use our draft letter to send to your Philippines Embassy, available to download HERE. Philippines embassy contact details can be found here

If you would like to call your Philippines Embassy, guidance for embassy contact is available HERE.