June 6, 2023


The government’s decision to revamp the anti-drug war stra-tegy by focusing on supply and demand reduction and observing the principles of respect for human dignity in its implementation is a welcome development.
The inclusion of the civil society is equally a wise decision to involve more actors, whose contribution in the efforts to rid communities of the drug menace,will be greatly valuable.
In the Cordillera, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has spearheaded last week the launching of the BIDA campaign that aims to end illegal drugs by identifying and addressing the causes of the problem at the grassroots and focusing more on supply and demand reduction and rehabilitation of users.
We have high hopes in the success of the BIDA Program; which stands for Buhay Ingatan, Droga Ayawan; as it promises a battle that will be guided by the moral principles of respect for human life and dignity.
At the start of the war on drugs in 2016 that has since turned into bloodbath, various sectors, including the international community, have called out the Philippine government, particularly the Duterte administration, for its apparent disregard to human rights in the implementation of the campaign.
We do not want a repeat of this grim scenario under the Marcos administration, which is why we welcome the new approach in the war on drugs, as it puts premium to valuing human rights and dignity.
The BIDA program aims to stop the number of individuals and lives destroyed by illegal drugs. So far, more than 300,000 drug-related cases and arrests have been documented and have been made. This includes the significant number of young individuals aged four to 17 years old falling victims to illegal drugs.
We count on the sincerity and efficiency of the regional line agencies, barangay officials and tanod, law enforcement agencies, the youth and religious sectors, and civil society organizations in crafting and implementing initiatives to address the problem on illegal drugs that has been gripping the country for years now.
Surely, each sector can contribute a thing or two in attaining the objectives of the campaign.
We hope the civil society, which is mostly working in the communities, will share the factors that lead community members to engage in drugs use to guide decision-makers, especially the government, in crafting programs that would really address the root causes of illegal drugs problem.
On the part of the government, we look forward to a more sincere implementation of policies that will also target groups and individuals controlling the drug trade.
We also want to see more drug manufacturers put behind bars.
Meantime, our position remains: If the government is serious about addressing the problem on illegal drugs, it should go after the big fish and not only focus on the fry.
More importantly, we also saw the need for those behind the BIDA program to include accountability to ensure those who commit abuses, particularly disrespect for human rights and dignity, or those who resort to extra-judicial killing, in the conduct of anti-drug campaign be held liable and brought to justice.