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2012-01180 MAGTIRA, Paolo L. FA-199 Section W-1


This study is a deconstruction of Rodrigo Duterte’s implementation of Oplan Tokhang as

an attempt to answer the problem regarding illicit drugs in the Philippines; the Duterte
administration’s anti-drug policy does not address the rampant poverty amongst people,
which is cited as one of the main motivation to drug addiction. Instead, the government
prefers the use of summary executions, claiming success in its body count. The
extrajudicial killings as a result of Oplan Tokhang have been rampant; with the
documented deaths committed in the hands of police have been with impunity.

The relationship of addiction and poverty with its relation to extrajudicial killings of the
poor as consequence of the “War on Drugs” will be the primary point of discussion.
Poverty and drug addiction has long been prevalent problems for Philippine society; these
societal dilemmas have a direct correlation with one another. Economical disadvantage is
a major environmental factor that can contribute to the predisposition of a person into
substance abuse. Further adding, it should be noted that addiction is actually a brain
illness that emerges through the application of two (2) variables: internal (genetics) and
external (environmental societal) factors.

The approach and concept of the war against drugs is an inherently flawed operational
method; it only serves to make the entire drug situation worse, instead of addressing the
addicts themselves through comprehensive rehabilitation programs and putting forth
policies to alleviate environmental influences such as poverty. Despite the fact of the
anti-poor and abusive nature of Oplan Tokhang, a significant number of Filipinos still
express approval and support to the concept of Duterte’s War on Drugs, and the
administration at large.

I.) Background of the Study

“Oplan Tokhang” is the solution that the Duterte administration came up with as an
answer to the prevalent problem of illegal drug trafficking and drug addiction in the
Philippines. Ever since its implementation during the earliest days of the Duterte
government’s term, it has come at the cost of the deaths of thousands of citizens who had
allegedly fostered involvement with the illicit drug industry; these people were alleged to
be drug traffickers and drug users, which culminated in the end result being a complete
disregard for the concept of due process through rampant killings. These summary

executions or extrajudicial killings as they are commonly referred to, came to pass
through the hand of either alleged “Third Party Vigilantes” or the Philippine National
Police (PNP) themselves through routine anti drug operations.

Furthermore, among the commonly occurring fatalities in the Duterte administration’s

“War on Drugs” were the youth, Kian de los Santos (17) and Carl Arnaiz (19) are only a
few of the numerous young victims. The police claim these teenagers were armed and
dangerous at the time of their encounters; this alleged “retaliation” from suspects became
a common motif for the justification of these police killings. These young lives are only a
small part of the thousands of deaths under the Duterte administration’s bloody campaign
in an attempt to provide a final solution to the drug problem that is afflicting the

In the middle of the month of October in the year of 2017, Oplan Tokhang was put to a
halt by the Duterte administration after more than a year-long campaign that left
thousands of bodies in its wake, all the while in the end being unable to put a forth the
“final solution” to the drug problem. It was decided that the responsibility of dealing with
the issue of the illicit drug trade was transferred from the Philippine National Police
(PNP) to the Philippine Drug Administration (PDEA).

II.) Problem Statement

1.0 Main Statement

Was Oplan Tokhang, a policy that led to the thousands of deaths of people mostly from
the poor sectors, a proper answer to quell the drug problem in the Philippines?

Under the main line of inquiry, there are a number of sub-questions that pertain to the
original statement mentioned above:

1.1 About Oplan Tokhang

 What were the policies put forth under Oplan Tokhang and how were they
 What was the connection of the implementation of Oplan Tokhang and the
killings among perceived addicts/pushers?
 What were the implications of Oplan Tokhang being primarily aimed at poorer
sectors of Philippine society?
 With previous “war on drugs” implemented in various countries as a reference,
was Oplan Tokhang a proper approach?

1.2 About Drug Addiction

 Should drug addiction be treated as a crime deserving of capital punishment?

 What effects does addiction have on the human body?

 What are the factors that make an individual predisposed to falling into addiction?

1.3 About Poverty in the Philippines and as an Environmental Factor to


 How do we define the concept of poverty?

 What are the factors and circumstances of poverty in the Philippine context?
 How is drug addiction and poverty correlated?

1.4 About Rehabilitation as an Alternative

 What are the different rehabilitation models as modes of treatments?

 How do we properly approach the process of addiction rehabilitation?

III.) Research Objectives

A.) Main Objective

To know that the if the “War on Drugs” implemented by the Duterte administration was
an adequate answer to the Philippine drug problem; whether or not “Oplan Tokhang” was
a policy that put forth the interest of the Filipino citizens or instead a haphazard attempt
to create a solution to a complex problem.

1.1 About Oplan Tokhang

1.) To know the policies put under Oplan Tokhang and how these policies were
2.) To know the connection of the implementation Oplan Tokhang and the heavy
death count that was perpetuated under the Oplan Tokhang.
3.) To be able to draw implications regarding the implications of the poor as targets
under Oplan Tokhang.
4.) To be able to cross-reference previous campaigns of other countries in regards to
the drug problem with the current Oplan Tokhang.

1.2 About Drug Addiction

1.) To be able to prove that drug addiction is a complex problem with deeper-rooted
implications that is not easily answerable by capital punishment.
2.) To be able to determine and examine the effects of drug addiction to an afflicted
3.) To be able to discuss and know about the major contributing factors that make an
individual susceptible/predisposed to addiction.

1.3 About Poverty in the Philippines and as an Environmental Factor to


1.) To define the concept of poverty in a general context.

2.) To know the factors and circumstances of poverty to in the Philippines.
3.) To know how poverty and drug abuse are problems directly correlated in with one

1.4 About Rehabilitation as an Alternative

1.) To be able to discuss different rehabilitation models.

2.) To be able to outline a proper approach to the rehabilitation process..

B.) Scope and Limitations

This study is primarily about the various aspects of an individual who experiences the
addiction and the implications of Oplan Tokhang put forth by the Duterte administration.
This is not a study about:

A.) The various different effects of different drugs on the human body, the effect of
“addiction” and rehabilitation itself is the main focus of the discussion.
B.) Also importantly, this does not come with the intention of being anti-drug
propaganda to vilify neither afflicted individuals nor a cautionary study to warn
about the effects drug use.
C.) The study is not a critique of the entirety of the Duterte Administration as this
study is centered on the deconstruction of Oplan Tokhang and other related topics
and concepts.

The area of study will mostly be limited to the context of urbanized areas the Nationcal
Capital Region (NCR) and surrounding cities as these places were the main point of
interest in relation to the killings and operations connected to Oplan Tokhang.

IV.) Hypothesis of the Study

Drug addiction is a brain illness brought about by factors that are internal and external in
nature. These factors mend into one another in order to create an individual’s
predisposition to falling into substance abuse. Poverty plays a crucial role in the
development of addiction; its wide spread presence in the Philippine masses is a
significant variable as to why addiction is such a prevalent and serious problem.

Oplan Tokhang is not a proper solution due the fact that the government does not need to
address drug addicts themselves through long-term incarceration or summary executions,
instead it should be addressed through either or both (1) address the cause of poverty

among the masses and put forth policies that alleviate the problem and/or (2) establish an
alternative, effective and comprehensive programs that deal with addiction prevention
and rehabilitation of addicts in the country.

V.) Conceptual Framework

This conceptual framework outlines the two (2) primary factors: (a) internal (genetics)
and (b) external (environmental and societal) that generally contribute to an individual’s
predisposition to falling into drug abuse. (K. Bettinardi-Angres and D. Angres 2010)
These environmental and societal factors can further be categorized into Familial
Background, Peers (Culture + Community) and Socio-economic standing.

Familial Background is an important factor in regards to its state with broken families
being more likely to breed future addicts. (Jêdrzejczak 2005, Hitchens 2011, Tsounis

Poverty is specified as major contributing external factor; it can be considered to be the

root of the problems regarding drug addiction, with the poor having an increased risk in
comparison to other groups. (Niazi 2009) Poverty in the Philippines is the result of
the lack of agricultural farmland and production for the farmers in a rural setting while no
proper national industrialization in the country results in general unemployment or barely
livable wages for the workers in an urban setting (CPP 2005, ADB 2009). Filipinos who
are counted as drug dependents are subjected to the policies outlined in Oplan Tokhang,
which supposedly aims be a gateway to proper rehabilitation but instead culminates in an
extrajudicial killing at the hands of the police.

VI.) Significance of the Study


Drug Addiction is not a problem easily answerable by putting the sufferers to death,
especially the kind of death executed without proper trial nor due process; in the current
Philippine society governed by the Duterte administration that implemented policies like
Oplan Tokhang, the people who are living in poor and marginalized sectors who fall into
drug addiction do not see an adequate solution to properly address their problem.

The primary victims of the extrajudicial killings as a result of police operations are those
who are living in poverty. The implications of the poor being the common targets under
Oplan Tokhang goes far beyond the discussion of crime and drug addiction, it also
touches on the power dynamics present in Philippine society. These intricacies regarding
social class and the involvement of the state are significant factors in the perpetuated
deaths connected to Duterte’s “War on Drugs”; these killings can be considered a form of
“social cleansing” wherein the main targets are the lower class who happen to be addicted
to drugs, while the higher classes enjoy relative peace.

The implementation of Oplan Tokhang is a demonstration of the state’s ability to

nonchalantly step over the rights of citizens; the people who belong closer to the base of
the social triangle are commonly disregarded in favor of the higher placed classes. This
study will stand as a dissection of the objective invalidity of the “War on Drugs”; An
emphasis on rehabilitation and addressing poverty as the root of drug addiction is a better
and more effective alternative answer to the drug problem.

VII.) Review of Related Literature

A.1.0 - Introduction
This section includes the analysis and related discussions of existing concepts that pertain
to the topic of drug addiction in both a generalized sense (in an international context) and
discourses anchored in Philippine society. Poverty, being a point of discourse directly
tied with addiction, will also be put into discussion. Furthermore, rehabilitation and
treatment methods will also be explored as an alternative to the drug war approach.

The specific topics put into discussion are judged to be of relevance in relation to the
situation in the country of the Philippines as country being subjected to the Duterte
Administration’s “War on Drugs”; the information presented are cited from both
international and local literature, articles and documents. The works are arranged
thematically, wherein stated information from various sources are sorted in accordance to
what concepts are discussed and the perceived relevance to the specific section of the
review. Each section is separated by headings that pertain to a specific subtopic.

To be able to deconstruct the situation of the drug problem in the Philippines and its
relation to the implementation of Duterte’s “War on Drugs”, the concepts regarding the
prevalence of poverty in the Philippines must be properly reiterated and discussed. The
concept of poverty by itself and its connection to drug addiction will be dissected through

a Marxist perspective. This review aims to provide that foundational support to the
arguments in sections that pertain to the analysis of Oplan Tokhang.

The common notion among the works published under the topic of drugs and addiction
that the concept of “addiction” itself is considered to be a form of mental illness, more of
an affliction rather than just a question of morality and questionable decision making on
the part of the individual. This “addiction”, as all illnesses are, needs to be primarily
addressed through therapy/rehabilitation. There are a number of factors that define the
susceptibility of an individual to fall into addiction, both internal (genetics) and external
(environment). It does not equate to mere simple discernment of only one of these factors
only; there is no single determinant whether an individual may be a potential addict.

A.2.0 - Drug Addiction as an Illness: Effects and Changes to a Human Body

Under Addiction

As stated by Dr. Des Corrigan in his essay, “Physical Impact of Drugs, Misuse and
Abuse” (1995), drug addiction defined as the continuous compulsive use of a specific
substance in order to experience the psychoactive effects it provides and to further avoid
the symptoms of discomfort in its absence. However, it should be noted that addiction is
not merely limited to dangerous drugs; addiction can take on various forms other than
dependence on addictive narcotics.

Addiction is a complex affliction that has various documented effects to an individual’s

body; these changes go far beyond the effect of the drugs themselves in a sense that it
conditions the body to fall into compulsive tendencies. As referred to by Leshner (1997,
p. 46), addiction is a brain disease that is prone to relapses; the effects of the sickness is
predominantly apparent in the brain wherein the functions are modified by the exposure
to addictive substances. Addiction is not a simple moral question easily answered with an
intention to change one’s lifestyle; it takes more variables in order to completely address
the source of addiction, as it is a chronic disease of the brain that is prone to relapses if
not properly addressed through proper therapy and rehabilitation. (NIDA 2011)

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States of America, “The Science of Addiction” (2014).

If we examine figure 1.0, there is a clear distinction between brains in a perceived normal
state in comparison to one afflicted by addiction; there is a documented decrease in brain
function on particular areas indicated by the lowered metabolism. The changes in
structure and function as a result of addiction can be likened to other diseases that afflict
other parts of the human body; figure 1.1 demonstrates the changes in heart metabolism
in a patient with heart disease, it exhibits an intrinsic similarity to the changes in a brain
under addiction. The heart, in the same vein of the former, also shows signs of lowered
metabolism. (NIDA 2014)

These similarities in the alterations of each respective organ are indicative of the nature
of addiction in a sense that it is a disease; these presented cases are both conditions that
have their specified effects and changes on the human body. Thus addiction should be
perceived the same way we associate common diseases with outwardly symptoms as
indicated. Similarly to an individual afflicted with heart disease, a person who has fallen
to addiction would have restricted bodily functions and detrimental effects of varying
degrees to their bodies; the only difference between these cases are the specific parts of
the body that are affected, with the case of addiction being predominantly observed
within the brain.

The brain is affected in a variety of reasons; there are actual identified neural receptors
that are more susceptible to subsume actions directly linked to addiction. These receptors
have common pathways in the neural system that is commonly a subject to affliction.
These pathways exemplified in the difference of the present chemical balance when we
compare the brains of those people who are addicted and those who are non-addicted.
Furthermore, the individuals who do suffer from addiction appear to display the same
several common physical traits and characteristics; it does not matter what substance(s)
these individuals are exposed to, as these similarities are still present. (Leshner 1997)

Source: Professor Sir Gabriel Horn FRS FRCP “An Academy of Medical Science Group Report: Brain
Science, Addiction and Drugs” (2008).

It is a proven fact that the prolonged exposure to addictive substances has devastating
effects in the form of neurotoxic changes at a cellular level within the common brain
systems; there are also notable behavioral changes with the individuals. The involvement
of the neurological system with addiction is indicated through the various regions of the
brain that commonly hold receptors that are predisposed to activating a chemical reaction
that would eventually lead to addiction. These receptors have different ways of reacting
to a specific type of addictive substance that lead to varying severities of affliction. (Horn

As illustrated by figure 2.0, the human brain is composed of a variety of receptors that
have various reactions to presented substances. It is detailed by the writings of Professor
Sir Gabriel Horn (2008) that the “nucleus accumbens” found deep within the center of the
brain is influenced by the various nerve cells (neural transmitters) that happen to contain
the chemical “dopamine” that is responsible for the connections found in a human brain;
several addictive substances work directly or indirectly by altering the function of
neurological transmissions between the synapses of the brain. “The presence of an
increase in dopamine levels in the brain over stimulates the area with the aforementioned
reward circuit that gives out sensations of pleasure.” (NIDA 2011: p.3)

Dopamine itself as a naturally occurring chemical within the brain has an integral role in
the way it carries out its functions. Fluctuations in the natural dopamine levels present in
the brain would lead to the emergence of various mental disorders; the effects are known
to range from a variety of mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia. Bearing
the importance of dopamine levels in the brain, most addictive drugs share a common
trait of being able to facilitate an increase in the release of dopamine in specific areas of
the brain, which in turn causes the feeling of being “high”. This acquisition of an
increased amount of dopamine in the brain eventually leads to addiction. (Ayano 2016)

The human body, after prolonged exposure to a specific substance would develop a
dependence on the drug that it will eventually lead to continued compulsive use. The
continued exposure will cause the body to seek out more of the substance to further
experience its effects; in the event of the drug’s the absence in the individual’s body
system, the individual will experience discomfort of varying severity depending on the
onset of the body’s dependence. (Corrigan 1995)

From the discussions presented about addiction, it can be inferred that an individual who
has fallen to addiction will more or less find extreme difficulty in addressing the problem
that has arisen from continued use of these addictive substances; being able to break free
from the cycle of addiction is not a task easily attainable especially considering that the
brain itself is afflicted. The body of the afflicted is effectively reprogrammed by the
chemical imbalance brought about by these addictive drugs.

Furthermore, being able to recover and ceasing the compulsive use of addictive
substances does not completely negate the ill effects of a past addiction. As a direct
quotation from an the article written by Alan I. Leshner, Science: Addiction is a Brain
Disease and It Matters: “Not only does acute drug use modify brain function in critical

ways, but prolonged drug use causes pervasive changes in brain function that persist long
after the individual stops taking the drug. Significant effects of chronic use have been
identified for many drugs at all levels: molecular, cellular, structural, and functional”
(1997, p. 46)

A.3.0 - Factors of Predisposition to Addiction

There are a variety of variables that can be considered that results in an individual more
susceptible to fall into addiction; these factors can be mostly categorized under two (2)
main classifications:

(1) Factors that deal with an individual’s genetic predisposition, which is to say that
there are circumstances with the genes passed down through the generations that
make an individual more susceptible to addiction.

(2) Factors that take into consideration the specific circumstances that are related to
an individual’s environmental and societal predisposition; specifically these are
the variables that are concerned with family and household environment along
with other significant factors such as education and socio-economic standing.

Both of these factor classifications have to be taken into account in order to fully achieve
an understanding of the question regarding what drives a person into addiction; a genetic
predisposition is not enough of a foundation in order to accurately assess an individual’s
susceptibility. We must also do an examination regarding the psychological and societal
factors that can drive a person to use addictive substances. (K. Bettinardi-Angres and D.
Angres 2010)

These factors can be likened to the preposition of “nurture versus nature” that delves into
the discussion of whether a person is inherently predisposed to addiction due to “nature”
or was “nurtured” by the environment that this person was exposed to since the early
developmental stages as a child.

A.3.1 - Genetic Predisposition

There is a strong correlation between the predisposition of an individual to fall into drug
addiction and the aspect of genetics. It is possible to ascertain this genetic influence when
we examine individuals who suffer from alcohol dependence; alcoholism and drug
addiction are two facets of the same condition, even more so that these afflictions
commonly co-occur. As outlined within the article by Dick and Agrawal, “The Genetics
of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence” (2008), there had been previous studies made
with the use of twins as subjects, the results yielded an apparent overlap between alcohol
dependence and drug addiction; these are predominantly the results of these twin
individuals having a shared genetic factor.

There is an existing risk of familial transmission in the subject of alcohol dependency and
substance abuse, a number of animal studies have been conducted that resulted in the
confirmation of the supposed possible genetic origins of alcohol-related characteristics
such as sensitivity to intoxication, development of tolerance and susceptibility to organ
damage. Studies that delve into the discussion of family illnesses, twins and adoption
cases support the notion of genetics as a factor to alcohol dependence. (K. Bettinardi-
Angres and D. Angres 2010)

According to the compiled studies of McGue (1999), family, twin and adoption cases
have proven that genetic ties have an outwardly influence on alcohol dependence; the
estimated heritability factor ranging from 50 to 60 percent for both men and women.
Furthermore, actual studies conducted from various sources by Agrawal and Lynskey
(2006), Kendler (2003) and Tsuang (2001) on the topic of the dependence on
illicit drugs has also been conducted in twin subjects, these studies exhibited results
pointing to the influence of genetics in drug dependence. These studies among adult
samples yielded a hereditability factor estimate of 45 to 79 percent. (as cited in Dick and
Agrawal 2008)

Source: Danielle M. Dick PhD and Arpana Agrawal PhD, Alcohol, Research and Health, Vol. 31, No.2
“The Genetics of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence” (2008)

As demonstrated in figure 3.0, there is evidence that establishes a clear link between the
genes that affect alcohol dependence, drug dependence, conduct disorder and adult
antisocial disorder. Studies undertaken by Kendler (2003) in the United States came
up with an analysis on the Virginia Twin Registry that suggested a common genetic
factor that ties addiction with various disorders related to externalizing psychopathy; it
should be noted that several independent studies conducted by Krueger (2002) and
Young (2000) also yielded similar results. This means that the genes responsible for
externalizing psychopathy disorders are the same genes that have an influence over the
emergence of alcohol and drug dependence. However, these genes are not the only
factors that have a contribution to an individual’s predisposition to addiction, as there is
evidence that point out to the existence of disorder specific genes that have the same
effect in influencing addiction. (as cited in Dick and Agrawal 2008)

Epps and Wright (2011) detailed two methods to fully identify the genetic factors that
influence an individual’s predisposition to substance abuse; both of these methods work
through the examination of an individual’s genetic material in order to find “linkages”.
Linkages are similar to footprints that are passed down between family members; certain
linkages are associated with the dopamine “reward system” in the brain.

(1) The “candidate gene method” that works by isolating a specific gene that may
have characteristics that directly or indirectly influence the predisposition of an
individual to addiction. This method deals with the examination of an individual’s
deoxy-ribonucleic acid (DNA) to look for specific patterns that are referred to as
“markers”; these markers are dissected to find linkages.

(2) The “genome wide linkage method” that works by examining the entire genome,
genomes being the genetic material of an organism, to look for the
aforementioned linkages through the blind study.

These findings more or less confirm the existence of a genetic predisposition to substance
abuse as certain genes, as enumerated by the aforementioned “linkages” found with the
genetic code of the human DNA, have an influence on how the brain is structured to react
to the exposure to certain addictive substances. Along with this, certain disorders are
paralleled with these genes, further making an individual predisposed to faulty decision-
making that eventually leads to dependence to either drugs or alcohol. It is an established
possibility that an individual can become an addict due to hereditary factors; therefore
further disproving the fact that addiction is solely a question of weak moral character.

A.3.2 - Environmental and Societal Predisposition

In the topic of addiction, there also exist factors that are external in nature; these factors
deal with the type of predisposition to addiction that comes from an outward source. This
is especially true when we consider the problem of substance abuse is not solely the
problem of the individual who suffers through addiction, but instead a consequence that
is also intrinsically linked to the community, culture and peer presence around the addict.
There is an apparent context within the community in the influence that drives an

individual to resort to drug abuse, considering that many addicts are introduced to illicit
drugs from a secondary source in a social setting. Aside from the influence of the
community, there are also concerns regarding an individual’s familial environment,
employment and socio-economic status. (Cullen 2003, Jêdrzejczak 2005, Hitchens 2011,
Tsounis 2013, Yoshimasu 2013)

Reviewing previously conducted studies and empirical research mentioned by Sinha

(2001, 2008) consistently reiterates the extensive connections between drug abuse and
stress. There is documented evidence demonstrating an apparent association between the
experience of acute and chronic stress and predisposition to alcohol dependence and drug
addiction. Documented specific causes of stress that are linked to eventual drug abuse are
the loss of a parent, sexual abuse and the unfaithfulness of a significant other. Stress that
is acquired in the developmental stage of an individual is also a notable predictor to the
development of addiction in later life. Despite the supposed increased predisposition
arising from early life stress, it is not a certain indicator, as many who experience this
type of stress do not develop addiction. (as cited in Robson and Salcedo 2014)

According to the study “Family and Environmental Factors of Drug Addiction Among
Young Recruits (2005)” written by Marian Jêdrzejczak Ph.D as part of Military
Medicine, the emergence of drug addiction that has to do with familial and community
background has three (3) primary factors:

(1) The effect of pathological families on an individual’s behavior at a young age and
eventual influence unto adulthood; the term “pathological family” refers to a
family with parents who suffer from mental illness and/or alcoholism that
commonly leads to an abusive parent-child relationship.

(2) The availability of easy to access drugs; addiction commonly starts at the first
instance of exposure of an individual to the addictive substances; it is further
exemplified when these aforementioned drugs are easy to access primarily due to
the community environment that a person is subjected to.

(3) The influence of people of the same age group and culture; peers are a common
factor to influencing individuals to take up certain habits, as humans are beings
that seek out social interaction and to gain peer approval.

How these factors affect an individual’s predisposition to drug addiction are determined
by the familial background and condition; there is a direct correlation to an increased
predisposition if a person has weaker family ties; it has been shown that drug addicts
commonly come from incomplete and pathological families. In families where there is
the presence of warmth and love, the children rarely or do not develop an addiction in
their lives; drug addicts commonly grew up from households that have harbor cold
relations and hostility when they were children. (Hitchens 2011, Jêdrzejczak 2005)

It is important to note that there are certain factors that are present within a familial
setting; these factors are (a) family atmosphere, (b) strength of family ties, (c) sense of
happiness as a family member, (d) structure of authority within a family and (e)

alcoholism. The presence and the nature of one’s family carry a beneficial role whether
or not drug addiction will become an installation in a person’s life; family is the most
basic social group that an individual can be a part of. It can be considered as a mirror of
the external community that exists outside the household as it can reproduce
circumstances and conditions that also present in everyday social life. (Jêdrzejczak 2005,
Tsounis 2013)

The structure of family is integral to the discussion of predisposition in drug addiction as

it is the social relationship that has received the most attention in the field of previous
studies; the main points of discourse being about the previously mentioned structure and
quality of family life. As reiterated, a number of studies point to an established
association with an initiation to drug use and a family structure riddled with conflicts that
can essentially be considered “broken”. Therefore it can be said that the quality of
relationships that were established in the formative years of an individual can more or
less determine if substance abuse will emerge in later life. (Rhodes 2003)

The family is often perceived as a primary source of strength that provides warmth and
stability to its members in order to secure the future of the following generations. It can
be seen as a way to sustain and protect its weaker members or a bad influence through
being a source of tension and pathology that can lead to addiction. (Copenhagen 1995)

Of the studies made in North America, one of the most prominent researches was
undertaken through a five (5) year follow-up on at least one-thousand (1000) families that
was headed by Needle and colleagues back in the year of 1982 (1990). By the time the
study had reached its conclusion in 1987, 13 percent of the families had an experience of
divorce that led to the initiation to substance abuse among the youths in the family. These
findings further confirm the notion of “broken homes” being a significant factor in
increasing the later development of drug abuse among individuals, with familial
connections having beneficial effects that will either make or break the introduction to
drug addiction. (as cited in Rhodes

As previously mentioned by Cullen (2003) and Jêdrzejczak (2005) the community and
similarly aged peers also have a prominent influence over whether or not individuals may
end up developing a form of addiction at some point of their lives. As an example, there
is a prevalent association with a person of young age to take up the habit of smoking if
his/her friends of the same age group also smoke. For reasons that are not completely
determinable, young individuals tend to choose peers who share a similar pattern of
substance abuse. This is especially apparent in alcohol and smoking, however this pattern
can also be applied to illicit drugs. (Haase and Pratschke 2010)

Aside from the influence factors that are of familial nature and community/peer driven
variables, there is also the aspect of the social environment of the community, financial
status, employment background that all fall under the umbrella classification of
“psychosocial factors”; these specific factors that deal with the intertwined concepts of
individual thought and social factors are key influencers in predisposition to substance-
related-diseases (SRD) and addiction. The aspects of substance abuse, socioeconomic

status and the type of job environments are related with one another. Poor work
performance and execution that stem from the use of addictive substances will commonly
lead to immediate dismissal; it is then that the sudden unemployment causes
psychological pressure on the individual that further pushes the indulges in taking
addictive substances to alleviate the mental suffering. (Yoshimasu 2013)

A review conducted by Hiscock (2012) demonstrates a correlation between smoking

nicotine and having a low socio-economic status (SES); it suggest that people who have a
high rate of smoking also have a low SES rating. This correlation can be traced to and
financial stressors that influence the individual. Henkel (2011) made a study about the
relation of unemployment and SRD. It was stated that people who are unemployed are
more prone to develop alcoholism and to use addictive substances. As stated previously,
substance abuse commonly leads to unemployment; the psychological stress arising from
unemployment then raises the risk for substance abuse. Furthermore, being unemployed
raises the likelihood of relapsing to alcoholism and drug abuse after a period of recovery.
(as cited in Yoshimasu 2013)

The presented evidence discussed in this section prove that the external environmental
factors are just as significant as the previously mentioned internal genetic variables; both
of these facets of causation form an image that demonstrates how an otherwise healthy
individual normally capable of making valid decisions can be tainted by addiction. Once
again the concept of “moral character” is put into focus; addiction is not a question of
mere moral weakness and the inability to make good decisions, but instead it is a disease
that emerges out of both a mixture of internal (genetics) and external (environmental)
variables. Sickness should be given the proper treatment as it should be, not be perceived
as a crime. Individuals who happen to fall into drug addiction should not be condemned
to the finalization of death but instead should be given a second lease on life so that they
can eventually find a cure through rehabilitation.

A.4.0 - Poverty, Philippine Society and How it Influences Drug Addiction

In order to address this specific issue that to mention, is not only a problem that makes its
various manifestations in the Philippines but also the entire world, it is needed that we
establish a definition of the concept of poverty. According to the chapter “What is
Poverty: Concepts and Measures” from the book “Poverty In Focus” written by Robert
Chambers (2006) as part of the United Nations Development Program, he explored the
three (3) relevant dimensions to the meaning of poverty:

(1) “Income Poverty or Consumption Poverty” is the most relevant facet aspect of
meaning; this terminology means as it is said, the type of poverty stemming from
lack of income to adequately support the needs of an individual. This is the facet
of poverty that most people and economists use when referring to the entire

(2) “Lack of Material” refers to the lack or little wealth at hand aside from actual
income and the absence or the low quality of basic assets such as housing,

clothing, furniture and other material things of the same classification. This also
refers to the inability or poor access to services.

(3) “Capability Deprivation” is referring to what one individual can and cannot do in
a society; this deprivation can include but can also transcend factors that relate to
lack of material and income to further examine on human attainment (e.g.
education) and human capabilities. (e.g. skills, physical abilities and self respect
as a member of the society)

The Philippines is a country wherein a significant number of the population is living in

abject poverty; the lack of successful government programs and provided social services
is rampant and readily apparent especially when the social stratifications is easily
observed in urban areas. This is also seen in underdeveloped provincial areas when basic
commodities like water and electricity are rarely if not present. The percentage of the
Philippine population living below the poverty line has been observed to have not seen
any leaps for improvement in the past four (4) decades. The main documented reason for
the outright prevalence of poverty is the perceived inequality in the most beneficial of
integral societal variables: the high rate of inequality in income and development brackets
in multiple regions and sectors. (ADB 2009)

Source: Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), “Current Labor Statistics (CLS)” (2017)

The table above illustrates the Philippines having a cumulative 21.6 percent poverty
incidence rate. However, this figure alone does not effectively paint the entire situation as
the breakdown sorted according to region exemplifies the existing regional disparity of
percentages of the population experiencing poverty incidence; the National Capital

Region (NCR), according to Census of Population and Housing (CPH) conducted by the
PSA May 2015 had a population of approximately 11. 9 million people boasted a 3.9
percent (476,000) of its population living below the poverty line. If we compare these
figures to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), we can see that with a
population of 3.7 million in 2015, the region boasted a significantly higher 53.7 percent
of poverty incidence (2 million approx.). If we further examine the table, the other
provinces have a distinctly higher poverty incidence percentage compared to NCR with
CALABARZON being the only other region with a single digit percentage with 8.3
percent in 2012 and increasing to 9.1 percent in 2015. (PSA 2017)

However according to Balisacan (1994), it is important to note that percentages of

poverty incidences in the urban areas of the Philippines can be underestimated due to the
fact that families who are homeless or are without permanent residence are routinely
omitted in the survey samples as these informal settlers are considered to be “unofficial”
and therefore underrepresented in these censuses. Moreover according to ADB (2005),
the entire poverty incidence rate presented for the country might be underestimated as the
pricing for the food threshold which is the actual basis for the poverty line, does not take
into account that the poor pay more for food because they do not have the capacity to buy
in bulks. (as cited in ADB 2009)

ADB outlined in its article “Poverty in the Philippines: Causes, Constraints and
Opportunities” (2009), the majority of the people who are living in poverty can be
described with the following characteristics:

(a) The vast majority of poor people lives in rural areas and belongs to the
agricultural class of farmers and fishermen.
(b) In urbanized areas, the poor are found either homeless in the streets or live in an
informal settlement.
(c) They have large families comprising of at least six (6) members.
(d) In two thirds (2/3) of poverty stricken families, the heads of the households has an
educational attainment of elementary school or lower.
(e) They have no or few monetary or other material assets.
(f) Their primary source of income is informal sector activities or informal
employment, these are activities that are not taxed by the government and
therefore cannot be effectively examined or monitored.
(g) A significant sample of poor families are “chronically poor”, which means
poverty that spans through multiple generations.

The Philippines is still lagging heavily in aspects of primary education, reproductive

health and mortal mortality rates mostly due to the fact that the provincial areas are
significantly behind NCR in terms of poverty incidence rates. Poverty in the Philippines
continues to be a provincial phenomenon as an estimated 75 percent of the entire
population of the country is the farmers who live in abject poverty. This widely dominant
presence of poverty in the countryside can be vastly attributed to decades long struggle of
achieving a genuine Agrarian Reform to address the lack of land for the farmers and the
lack of adequate agricultural services (modernized agricultural tools, subsidized

fertilizers) by the government and overall poor governance in the provinces. (CPP 2005,
ADB 2009

A.4.1 - The Capitalist System, Social Classes and Class Struggle

The Philippines is a country that is abundantly rich in regards to natural resources, it has
the capacity to effectively sustain the entirety of its population with its rich lands suitable
for agriculture and mountains filled with minerals; the materials are more than able to
provide an adequate supply to support a full-scale national industrialization. The inability
of the Philippines to take a step and commit to further economic development can be
explained by the continued installation of an undeniably unequal system and the lack of
national industries; this capitalist agenda is further advocated with the motive of foreign
imperialism and the select few local bourgeois who benefit from the propagation of this
system. The bourgeois classes that sit at the top of the social triangle head the economic
paper tiger of capitalism; they further use the upper hand of economical control shaped
by Philippine history to maximize its established concept of free trade for the sake of
profit. The resources naturally found in the Philippines are not extracted and refined for
the sake of its own citizens but instead is used to fuel the economy of foreign businesses.
(Marx 1848, CPP 2005)

“The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created
enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural,
and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and
semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations
of bourgeois, the East on the West.” (Marx 1848 p.8) This quote from Marx further
explains the situation that is current relevance in the Philippines; the countryside is
relegated to abject poverty due to lack of livelihood while the urban population is the
economic centerfold, yet despite being the economically superior, the capital still rife
with issues regarding urban poverty and lack of proper housing.

The history of every existing society is a history that details the struggle between
different classes; this struggle changes in its face in every passing era, but despite the
outwardly alterations it still remains relatively unchanged in power structure and
dynamics. An example of these relationships is the struggle between a free man against a
slave and the lords against the serfs. If we talk within the parameters of the Philippine
context, farmers against landlords and workers against comprador-bourgeoisie are the
classes that participate in this struggle. (Marx 1848, CPP 2005, CPP 2010)

In other words, the demonstrated relationship dynamics depicted in these struggles can be
further simplified to the dynamics of the oppressors against the oppressed. These social
classes are constantly standing in opposition with one another as they are involved in a
continued struggle to fulfill the needs of the oppressed and to retain the status quo created
by the oppressors. All classes participate in this struggle, the result in the end that some
classes are victorious as the others are relegated to a loss. It is the history of man and the
history of the different civilizations that were created for thousands of years. Class
struggle will always exist as long as classes exist; it is when class no longer exists that

oppression and the oppressed are concepts that are also no longer prevalent. (Marx 1848,
Zedong 1964)

There is always a general tendency of the classes that have a more favorable standing in
comparison to their lower counterparts to use exploitation to further gain an upper hand.
The manner of which this exploitation works and finds its emergence within production
is almost insurmountable and untraceable as there are an infinite number of instances
where this exploitation can take place. This exploitation will always be present as long as
the concept of social classes is still relevant in society. (Parsons 1949, Marx 1984)

Source: Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) or Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), “Maikling
Kurso sa Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino” (MKLRP), Pangatlong Edisyon (Third Edition) (2005)

Figure 4.0 further details the different social classes at play in Philippine society. Class is
a classification that deals with an individual’s mode of production, contribution to
production and income acquisition; classes are stratifications that are primarily
determined in their roles in production. The illustration is formed as the aforementioned
“social triangle” with the ruling class occupying the top-most 1 percent of the constructed
hierarchy and the farmers relegated to bottom despite being the large majority of citizens

in the Philippines at 75 percent. In this society composed of the various social classes;
every member is a member of a particular class along with every type of thinking without
exception is branded by the particular characteristics of a social class. (Zedong 1964,
CPP 2005)

The presence and description of these social classes can be referred to as “social
stratifications” in a society is distinctly described as ranking individuals according to a
generalized social hierarchy and not into specific contexts. Most prominently, classes are
determined by the “work” these people do, whether the nature of the work is in the field
of economic enterprise, governmental activities, labor oriented work and even
professions centered around academia. These stratifications are present due the inherently
competitive aspect of an individualistic occupational system, (e.g. capitalism and
socialism to an extent due to the continued presence of classes) this individual aspect can
be suppressed by the concept of “organization” held by authority. (Parsons 1949)

As detailed by the writings of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), “Maikling
Kurso sa Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino” (MKLRP) (Short Course on Society and the
Filipino Revolution) (2005) with supplemental information from “State and Revolution”
(1917) by Vladimir Lenin and “The Communist Manifesto” (1848) by Karl Marx, the
different social classes along with their respective descriptions and characteristics
present, from the mass majority to the ruling class in the Philippine context are as

(a) The “Farmers” (75%) are the majority of the Filipino people; these are the
agricultural workers either have no or a lack of farm land to cultivate and is
primarily oppressed by the presence of landlords in agricultural production. They
shoulder the unreasonably high cost of rent in farmland and low profits in their
harvested products. Landlords, bureaucrat capitalists and large foreign
corporations mostly occupy the lands that they are supposed to cultivate for
agricultural production.

(b) The “Workers” or the “Proletariat” (14-15%) are the second largest social class of
Filipino people; factory workers, carpenters, plumbers and other similar
professions that require labor force belong to this class. These workers are
predominantly living in poverty due to not having the possession of machinery or
the means of production; due to the fact of not owning anything but they are
forced by necessity to sell their labor force for the sake of profit of the local and
foreign capitalists in exchange for low wages and dangerous, lack of job security.

(c) The “Petite Bourgeoisie” or “Petty Bourgeoisie” (7-8%) constitutes the

intellectuals, professionals, small businessmen and educated workers in the
corporate world and various businesses. Their acquired intelligence, skills and
knowledge are used in exchange for relatively livable wages under the capitalist
system; however, their mode of living is being steadily devalued under the system
as the value of their wages get smaller and the genuine lack of job security also
puts them at risk. The continued prosperity of their small businesses and ventures
are impeded and eventually lead to failure due the inflated loan interests, high

taxation and the rotten characteristics of the bureaucratic system.

(d) The “Ruling Classes”, Landlords (“Panginoong May Lupa” or PML), Comprador
Bourgeoisie (“Malaking Burgesyang Kumprador” or MBK) and the National
Bourgeoisie (1%) are the ones occupying the top of the pyramid. However, it
should be noted that the National Bourgeoisie ranks below the PML’s and the
MBK’s as they as a social class are also oppressed through the manipulation of
the policies put forth by the reactionary government through sheer economic
influence, although many of those who belong to the National Bourgeoisie harbor
ambitions of further progressing their class standing to either PML’s or MBK’s.
The ruling class is composed the landlords (PML), that own large hectares of land
in the provinces are the common oppressors of the farmers, and the owners of
extremely large corporations (MBK) that take advantage of the workers’ labor
force through cheap labor, unfair labor practices and contractualization in a
commonly urban setting.

However, as detailed in another literature work of CPP, “Batayang Kurso ng Partido”

(BKP) (Basic Course of the Party) (2010), there are specific and special social classes
that do not fit in the previously described categories above. Listed here are the social
classes that have their own distinct descriptions and role(s) within Philippine society:

(a) “Semi-Proletariat” is the class of people who are the by-product of the unequal
nature of Philippine society. This class is not associated with the proletariat
despite the terminology. The people who belong to this classification are the
individuals who cannot effectively secure a means of income due to the lack of
production and industry in the provinces. They are the workers of that hail from
the farmlands, the poor and middle sectors of farmers that do not or have little
means for production.

(b) “Lumpen-Proletariat” is the class that is also the by-product of the lack of work in
both the provinces and the urban areas due to the economically repressive setting
of the Philippines. They commonly participate in questionable activities that are
not mandated by the state. Some of the activities they take part in are considered
to be of illegal nature. The activity of stealing, begging and prostitution are a few
of their areas. This class is not acknowledged in regards to their contribution to
production or in class struggle. However, members of this class can come to know
change and eventually attain an actual contribution.

(c) “The Special Classifications” is the class composed of people who have particular
traits and characteristics and is unique due to the fact that their means of
production is varied; this class is still significant in the discussion of class struggle
despite having no particular means for production associated with them. These are
the fishermen, national minorities, settlers, women and the youth.

However, the social classes are not the only important variables we need to consider in

this picture in order to properly explain the dynamics of class struggle. The participation
and the existence of the “State” in the continued propagation of the class struggle is an
integral part of the discussion. Friedrich Engels put in his explanation in one of his works
“The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Sixth Edition” (1894, p.177-
178) in his historical analysis regarding the State and its role in the contradiction between
the social classes:

“The state is, therefore, by no means a power forced on society from without; just as little
is it 'the reality of the ethical idea', 'the image and reality of reason. Rather, it is a product
of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has
become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into
irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these
antagonisms, these classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume
themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it became necessary to have a power,
seemingly standing above society, that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the
bounds of 'order'; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and
alienating itself more and more from it, is the state." (as cited in Lenin 1917 p.4)

According to Lenin in “State and Revolution” (1917), the state itself, more specifically
the Philippine government in the Philippine context, has been an instrument for the
continued institutionalized exploitation of the lower classes for the sake of profit under
the established capitalist system. The state is a product of the continued struggle between
the social classes of society and its irreconcilable nature; the state serves as a barrier, a
protector of the higher social class in a capitalistic society as it strives to preserve the
status quo. The state still exists in a socialist setting, but it serves a different purpose as it
instead attempts to retain the socialist system by quelling the class struggle of the
bourgeois against the proletariat; in a socialist state, the class struggle still exists. The
state exists as long as the class struggle remains, as it is objectively irreconcilable as long
as the concept class itself is not truly obsolete.

The advent of the industrial revolution and the newfound efficiency increase on the
concentration of production and the eventual dominance of mass production led to the
emergence of the characteristics and needs for foreign imperialism. The mode and means
of production being monopolized and falling to the possession of a few groups or MBK’s
is a natural consequence of the concept of the “free market” advocated by the capitalist
system. This is referred to as the “accumulation of capital” which is a direct result of the
economic monopolization that occurs in the competition of various markets to achieve
dominance; smaller businesses are eventually devoured and erased by the behemoths of
that specific market. (Marx and Engels 1887, CPP 2010)

The continued growth of a monopolized capital due to this accumulation will eventually
lead to the inevitable need for market expansion, as it is unable to sustain itself in its
current market that is now too small to create sizable profit. Therefore it seeks out
another new market through another country; it colonizes it through economic means
(product exportation) to further support its expansion. This is the main rationale behind
foreign imperialism in the Philippines, these empires, like the US industry, cannot further
support its continued as accumulation and surplus production in it’s own home land and

seeks out a different market to sell its products to avoid financial collapse. (Marx and
Engels 1887, CPP 2010)

It has been argued that capitalism as a system gives way to various opportunities to
further increase human development as it is an economic system built on competition and
dynamic innovation in order to get further ahead. This argument holds truth; however, it
is also a reality of the capitalist system that these opportunities are not or will never be
available to the majority of the population. There is the existence of certain barriers that
prevent some individuals from taking the benefits of the capitalist system and leads them
to remain in the bottom; these barriers have historically prevented certain sectors of
society – the poor, women and ethnic minorities from continually advancing while
favoring others. (Muller 2013)

In a partial conclusion, the discussion about the rampant poverty in the Philippines is an
issue rooted within the lack of national industrialization, lack of distributed farm land and
the continued implementation of an inevitably failing capitalist system, which in principle
is a system that only caters to a select few that are able to secure specific conditions to
achieve financial success/adequacy. The semi-feudal and semi colonial nature (CPP
2005, CPP 2010) of Philippine society further allows the accumulation of resources and
wealth among the one percent while a significant amount of the population lives in abject

A.4.2 - The Correlation Between Poverty and Addiction

Poverty a plays a significant role in the potential development of addiction as it becomes
the primary motivation to fall into dependence; it can be stated that the prevalence of
poverty is the root of the entire problem. Poverty and its facets of the lack of education
and income inequality as environmental factors further increase an individual’s
predisposition to resorting to drug use. (Niazi et. al 2016)

Poverty and drug addiction are intrinsically linked concepts that commonly occur in the
same instances in respective of one another. The groups who are at risk of developing
addiction are those who come from the margins of society; these are the individuals who
are deprived socially and economically. As previously mentioned by Yoshimasu (2013)
in an earlier section of this thesis about the Environmental and Societal Predisposition to
Drug Addiction (p. 12-13), the lack of employment and a sustainable income makes a
person more likely to be initiated to first time substance abuse. To further add to the point
of discussion, it has been demonstrated in studies conducted by Butler (1997) in the
country of Ireland, it has been consistently found that the selected respondents in relation
to drug abuse have similar traits, it is the fact that these individuals do not come from
randomly distributed neighborhoods, but instead it has been determined that they reside
in community clusters that are stricken with poverty and is rife with general economical
disadvantage. (as cited in O’Higgins 1998, SDF 2007)

There is a notable difference of the manner of which drug use is motivated between the
youth who are living in poverty and those who are living in considerable affluence.
According to Zinberg (1984), living in the communities where poverty prevalent

increases the predisposition to riskier manner of drug use among the younger sectors of
society in comparison to more affluent groups of the same age group. The primary
motivation of poverty stricken youth to resort to drug use is seen as some sort of “self
medication” as attempt for alleviation from the setting of common hopelessness and
boredom brought about by economical disadvantage. In comparison, the middle-class to
more affluent youth perceives the act of drug use as an “enhancement” to an already
interesting and comfortable lifestyle. (as cited in O’Higgins 1998)

This correlation is also apparent in alcohol dependence; people of low socio-economic

status, low educational attainment or unsatisfactory occupational status tend to be more
vulnerable to the risks of alcohol abuse related diseases and even death. The contrast
between economically disadvantaged individuals and those living in relative affluence
have also been apparent as is with drug abuse; the individuals living in poverty are more
likely to engage in “binge drinking” which is a risky drinking pattern more associated
with repercussions to health while their affluent peers only participate in slightly
excessive drinking patterns. (Jones and Sumnall 2016)

People living in poverty in retrospect, live a more difficult life compared to the
percentage of the population that have relatively adequate financial capacities; the poor
are commonly faced with the status of unemployment or having low skill jobs that leads
to a general feeling of helplessness regarding socio-economic standing. A significant
number of these people have less than ideal family structures and have a higher
probability of being unable to pursue of finish their education. Furthermore, they more
often than not have no or limited access to healthcare service that leads to these people
being more likely to suffer from health related problems. This lifestyle is bound to cause
psychological stress to the individual; stress as a primary factor can be used to explain the
reason behind substance abuse. According to the “Tension Reduction Hypothesis” by
Conger (1956), people tend to engage in substance abuse in order to alleviate the stress
they experience. (Niazi 2009, as cited in Jones and Sumnall 2016)

Unemployment is a common status among those who are living in poverty; this lack of a
means of producing income and drug abuse are closely linked with another. Gfroerer and
Brod- sky (1993) in their study provided data that further cemented this relation between
unemployment and drug addiction; the percentage of the population who are not
employed demonstrate an increased prevalence to use substances such as heroin, cocaine,
marijuana, hallucinogens, PCP and heavy alcohol use. This relationship is also widely
documented among the drug addicts who are participating in treatment and rehabilitation.
(as cited in Silverman and Robles 1999)

This notion is partially proven by the significant number of patients in rehab programs
are commonly unemployed. In a large-scale Treatment Outcome Prospective Study
(TOPS) conducted by Hubbard (1989) in the United States found that 11,000 drug
addicts who were being treated in 41 different drug rehabilitation centers shows a high
rate of unemployment among the patients. The patients that were featured in the study
came from three (3) different treatment stratifications: (1) outpatients (2) residential
patients and (3) outpatients who were drug free; these patients were asked regarding their
employment status from the first year of their respective rehabilitation programs to its

end after five years of receiving the treatment. Less than 50 percent of the patients
coming from all stratifications had reported to having a full-time employment and
approximately less than 30 percent of all patients reported to acquiring a job in any of the
years participating in rehabilitation. (as cited in Silverman and Robles 1999)

Neale (2002) clarified that these people who are deprived economically do not
necessarily all eventually turn out as problematic drug users. However, these groups who
especially are commonly homeless have a higher risk of developing a debilitating
addiction. Homeless and drug addiction are inherently linked concepts but there had only
been a few documented studies that delve in this correlation. Hammersley and Pearl
(1997) conducted one of the studies that explore this connection between homelessness
and addiction; the details of the study outline the intimate connection of the housing
problem and drug abuse. The study was set in Glasgow, Scotland that involved a hundred
(100) homeless youths; it was documented that over 75 out of the 100 had experience
with past or continued substance abuse. The abused substances included marijuana,
hallucinogens and amphetamines; out of the 75, over half described themselves as
“severely dependent”. (as cited in SDF 2007)

Furthermore, the effects of drug addiction are even more devastating in the long term for
the poor families and poor individuals as they are more vulnerable to get into multiple
financial crises if their already small assets get further depleted due to addiction. Drug
addiction is a problem that further worsens the already abject poverty they live through
by impacting their financial assets and not facilitating any returns due to either small
wages or general unemployment. This effect of addiction is apparent especially in
familial units that have one or more member that is engaging in substance abuse; this
effect is even more debilitating if it is the head or main earner of the family is addicted.
The small resource of a poor household is not at all easy to maintain especially if finances
go through consistent depletion due to addiction without being adequately replaced by
new wages acquired from employment. (Keshav 2015)

A.5.0 - Oplan Tokhang: Policies, Implementation, Statistics and the Drug


The Duterte administration perceives its citizens who have fallen to the crux of drug
addiction as subhuman dangerous criminals that are deserving of capital punishment.
Since the installation of Rodrigo Duterte as the president of the Republic of the
Philippines on the 30th of June in 2016, the administration wasted no time in taking the
first steps to implementing its “War on Drugs”. Oplan Tokhang was the centerpiece of
the government’s attempt to answer the drug problem; it’s own-patented design of
operation that led to the deaths of thousands of poverty-stricken citizens through
extrajudicial killings carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP) or third-party
vigilantes; the victims were alleged to be either drug users of dealers. These police
killings have been commonly justified by the claim that suspects were armed and
dangerous at the time of their encounters, thus the use of lethal force of the police was
deemed necessary. (Ballaran, ABS-CBN 2016, HRW 2017, AI 2017)

As outlined in a published report, “License to Kill – Philippine Police Killings in

Duterte’s War on Drugs” (2017, p.7) by the Human Rights Watch, Rodrigo Duterte
himself outwardly and regularly utters statements in his presidential addresses that
explicitly demonstrate his hostility and desire to eliminate drug users in the Philippines
through death. He also praised the continually growing body count amassed by the police
killings as an indication of Oplan Tokhang’s success. His sentiments of his
administration fully embarking on a bloody killing campaign against drug dealers and
users are apparent in multiple direct quotations:

(a) “When I become president, I will order the police to find those people [dealing or
using drugs] and kill them. The funeral parlors will be packed.” – Duterte (March
2016), stating his presidential electoral platform during a campaign rally.

(b) “If you are still into drugs, I am going to kill you. Don’t take this as a joke. I’m
not trying to make you laugh. Sons of bitches, I’ll really kill you.” – Duterte (June
2017), further reiterating his intention and desire to kill drug dealers while being
in Davao City after being elected.

(c) “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe
what I am saying.” – Duterte (August 2017), vowing to kill more drug involved
individuals amidst reports and criticism of police engaging in extrajudicial

It has first been thought that these overtly disturbing words from Rodrigo Duterte during
the earlier days of his term were only an outward display of his brash nature to further
assert the power of his Presidency. Months later, it has unfortunately been proven that
these seemingly immaterial threats were actually promises that he had no intentions of
breaking; he would see to it that “every last drug lord and the last pusher have either
surrendered, put behind bars or below the ground.” News of the sudden increase in
deaths, killings, arrest and “voluntary surrenders” under the Duterte administration were
soon to be the focus of Philippine media. (Santiago 2016)

It was on the 1st day of July in 2016; right after the first day that Duterte assumed the
presidential office that the also newly installed PNP chief, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa,
signed Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No.16-2016 that effectively detailed
and put into effect the newly installed administration’s anti-drug campaign. “Oplan
Tokhang” or “Oplan Double Barrel” was an alleged policy that “further strengthens the
mechanism in the monitoring of drug-related cases, conduct criminal investigation and
case-build up to ensure a filing of air tight cases in the courts against even PNP personnel
and other personalities who are involved in drugs.” The projects stated purpose is to
“support the Barangay Drug Clearing Strategy of the government and the neutralization
of drug personalities nationwide. A “barangay” is the smallest administrative sector of
the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) headed by a “barangay captain
and its councilors. (PNP CMC 16-2016 p.2, PNP 2016 p.1)

The name of “Double Barrel” comes from the supposed two-part policy that composes
the overall implementation of the Duterte administration’s drug war; (1) is “Oplan HVT”

which is supposedly focused on the actual drug syndicates and big-time traffickers and
(2) the widely known “Oplan Tokhang” which is an operation especially targeting low-
level peddlers and users. “Oplan” is a juxtaposition of “operation” and “plan” and
“tokhang” is the fusion of two words that mean to knock and plead, with the main alleged
strategy of the operation is the police knocking on the doors of suspected drug traffickers
and users and persuading the individuals to cease their illegal activities and voluntarily
surrender to the authorities. (PNP 2016, AI 2017)

According to the details outlined in CMC No.16-2016 and the “DIDM IMPLAN re: Anti
Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan Project – Double Barrel” provided by the Philippine
National Police, Oplan Tokhang has five (5) main stages of policy and implementation.
These stages have specific subsets of conduct that the police are supposedly required to
follow as operation guidelines. These documented stages in order are listed and explained

(1) “Collection and Validation of Information Stage” – this was to be carried out
during the first months of the Duterte administration’s term. It served as a
foundation to the identification and the information regarding suspected drug
addicts in various barangays. The identities of each suspect must be documented
and verified as preparation for the house visitations.

(2) “Coordination Stage” – this refers to the PNP establishing communication to

coordinate with specific government agencies, stakeholders and non-
governmental organizations as further preparation before conducting the house to
house visitations of suspected drug dealers and users. The organizations mainly
involved with the coordination are the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council
(BADAC), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs
Board (DDB), the media for the public information of police operations and other
NGO’s deemed to have necessary involvement.

(3) “House to House Visitation Stage” – this is considered to be the main point of
interest in Oplan Tokhang; this is the visitation of the residencies of suspected
drug pushers and addicts in the barangays. It was supposedly conducted
simultaneously on the first day of office of the PNP. Operatives of the PNP
primarily head the visitations accompanied by a representative from the BADAC
of the specific barangay to assist and to serve as witnesses to the visitation. It is
important to note that it is specifically detailed within this operation plan that
visitations should not violate the rights of the subject.

(4) “Processing and Documentation Stage” – this is where the verified drug dealers or
users are to sign a “voluntary surrender form” and formally be taken in under
police custody; any drugs and paraphernalia are confiscated by the authorities.
Individuals are then referred or invited to local police stations for interviews,
documentation and other alternative actions. Any suspected individual who denies
involvement with drug dealing and drug use or refuses to participate in the house

visitations shall be referred to the Anti-Illegal Drug Units for immediate case-
build up.

(5) “Monitoring and Evaluation Stage” – this is a “follow-up” on the individuals

verified under the house visitation and documentation stages. If reports of
continued illegal drug activities are persistent in a house previously subjected to
the earlier stages of Oplan Tokhang, the chief of local police stations and other
illegal drug units immediately put forth police mobilizations to arrest and file
criminal charges to the violator(s). The police and representatives from BADAC
conduct weekly follow-ups on various drug personalities to properly determine
their status and whereabouts.

The key dynamic in Oplan Tokhang is the coordination of the PNP and barangay officials
in identifying certain individuals are suspected of drug dealing or drug use. This is done
in the previously mentioned “Coordination Stage” of Oplan Tokhang. The two sectors
enter a collaboration in order to compile and maintain a “Drug Watch List” or “Narco
List”; this practice came into usage even before the Duterte administration. A circular
signed in 2015 from the Department of Interior that ordered the BADAC to continuously
gather data regarding individuals who are and were involved in illegal drugs proves this.
There had also been previous police and news reports that detail the existence of these
lists dating as early as 2005. (PNP 2016, Santiago 2016, AI 2017)

A “purok leader” or barangay subdivision head in Mindanao had told in an interview with
Amnesty International that the police had asked him to provide a list of names; he had
been told to include names of individuals who use illegal drugs, even in the past,
disregarding of the person’s current status as a user. He had mentioned that some of the
included names in the list was added from his “personal knowledge” while others were
added on the merit of the provided accounts of community members; verification of the
drug use was attempted by the purok leader through first hand inquiries with the
suspected constituents. The individuals whose names were included through the
community members’ accounts refused to admit any involvement with drugs in either
dealing or use, despite this shaky verification method, their names were still included in
the final list submitted to police. The local barangay administration barangay trusted the
police to “figure out” if the person was actually involved in drugs. Accounts from
barangay officials in Metro Manila show striking similarities with the events detailed in
this interview. (AI 2017)

The problem with this practice is that a name can be included from unreliable and
unverified sources; there are no procedures or standards present as guidelines to verify
the names included on the list, neither is there any clear way for an individual to clear
his/her name from the list. The Duterte administration uses the drug watch list to direct
the point of attack that Oplan Tokhang will take; this is especially daunting when we
consider that these lists are the catalyst to pave the way for the spate killings of alleged
drug users who commonly come from poor communities. These extrajudicial killings
violate the rights to life of the victims and to a due process. (KARAPATAN 2016, AHRC

It has been stated that the list is easily liable to inaccuracy and tends to turn into an actual
“kill list” or “hit list” for its connections to the Duterte administration’s bloody anti-drug
campaign that led to the deaths of thousands; the list can be used as a reference for
vigilante gunmen to which names on the list will be the next statistic. A specific case that
is cited to be a demonstration of this problem with the drug watch list was the killing of
10th grader Emmanuel Lorica (17), a student of Eusebio High School, in December 2016;
his death was alleged to be of mistaken identity when an unidentified gunman shot him in
his sleep at an evacuation center as witnesses testified that they heard the gunman say
“it’s not him” right after killing him. Pasig City Police claimed that the boy was included
in the list as a “drug user or pusher”; the barangay chairman who clarified that Lorica’s
name was never included in the aforementioned list immediately contradicted this claim
but the boy was said to be part of a separate investigation for being a “runner” for another
dealer. (Agoncillo, Inquirer 2016, Santiago 2016)

A. 5.1 - Police Operations and Extrajudicial Killings

Source: Amnesty International “If You Are Poor, You Are Killed: Extrajudicial Executions on the
Philippines, War on Drugs” (2017),

It can be stated that the police operations undertaken under Oplan Tokhang have had a
direct hand into the deaths that have been brought into national attention. There had been
conflicting numbers at the total presented death toll coming from the Philippine National
Police. According to PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, the
currently cited figure of the fatalities associated with Oplan Tokhang is at least 2,600+
individuals killed in actual police operations while 1,300+ are not associated with the
police, but are perpetuated by third-party vigilante groups; this figure only takes into
account the incidents from July 2016 to March 2017. (as cited Tubeza, Inquirer 2017)

This directly conflicts with the commonly cited figures by the Philippine media and
rights advocate groups of 7000+ fatalities, even in the opening remarks in a hearing in the
United States Congress by the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights on July 2017
uses this larger figure to account for the deaths under Duterte’s war on drugs. However,
this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the PNP moved a majority of the deaths
under the classification of “under investigation” thus causing the apparent drop in the
numbers. (Mc Govern 2017)

Extrajudicial killings are domestically defined to be summary or arbitrary executions that

are considered to be a deprivation to life without the chance of experiencing a full legal
and judicial process of persecution or legal process with the involvement and complicity
of the government and its agents. In the Philippines, there is no set legal definition to
extrajudicial killings; however the Supreme Court citing the rule on the Writ of Amparo
further explained that these are the type of killings that are committed without the due
process of law, without any legal safeguards or proceedings. Furthermore the Supreme
Court also outlined the relation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to be
of the same concept due to the similarities of their respective purpose. (AHRC 2017)

The international community, most notably proponents from the United States of
America, also has misgivings on the actions of the Duterte Government that lead to
rampant human rights violations. As remarked by Vice-Chairman of the Tom Lantos
Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) James P. Mc Govern on a congress hearing: “We
should be clear what an extrajudicial killing or execution is: it is the purposeful killing of
a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding. No
arrest. No charges. No warrant. No trial. No judge. No jury. Simply, murder. If the
Filipino government is truly concerned about illicit drugs, then alternatives to killing
people in cold blood are readily available.” (Mc Govern 2017, p.1-2)

It is the Philippine National Police, not third-party vigilantes as stated by actual officers
from the police force, are the agents who primarily carry out the extrajudicial killings.
These deaths have received a significant increase ever since the beginning of the Duterte
administration which can be attributed to the implementation of Oplan Tokhang;
according to a report written by Mogato and Baldwin for Reuter’s News Agency posted
in an article: “Police Paid to Kill Drug Suspects, Plant Evidence – Reuters Report”
written by Gonzales for the Philippine Daily Inquirer (2017), it detailed the accounts of
two (2) police officers in relation to the spate of killings on the condition that they remain
unidentified. These are the significant parts of account detailed in the article:

(a) There is coordination between the police and the local authorities to turn off the
streetlights and surveillance cameras in specific areas of operation to avoid public
witnesses of the killings.

(b) Either rookie cops who are eager for experience or nominated officers by their
superiors as a “baptism through fire” are the ones who execute most of the
suspected drug involved individuals detained by the police in their precincts.

(c) The police usually plants evidence after a fatality in an operation in order to
ensure the legality of the use of lethal force. Propping up a gun and placing it in
the hands of the corpse of the suspect is common practice when planting
evidence; the trigger is pulled through the suspect’s finger to further provide
evidence for forensics examinations. Drugs are also planted in the corpse as proof
of involvement in illegal drugs.

Further cited by the aforementioned Reuter’s News Agency report is a PNP retired
intelligence officer’s unpublished 26-page report shared with Catholic Church Leaders
and the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), titled: “The State-Sponsored Extrajudicial
Killings in the Philippines” outlined the accounts of seventeen (17) different policemen
that mentioned an incentive to officers for participating in the killings; police are
allegedly paid 10,000 PHP per kill. This incentive does not only apply to killing drug
dealers and users but also rapists, pickpockets, gang members and other perceived
“troublemakers” The report also detailed a “price range” for killing drug suspects; 10,000
PHP - 20,0000 PHP for “street level” drug dealers and users, 50,000 PHP for members of
“neighborhood councils, 1 million PHP for “distributors, retailers, wholesalers” and 5
million PHP for “drug lords”. (as cited in Inquirer 2017)

According to the Human Rights Report compiled by Amnesty International, “If You Are
Poor, You Are Killed: Extrajudicial Executions on the Philippines, War on Drugs”
(2017), the killings perpetuated by the police under Oplan Tokhang falls into three (3)
categorizations of operation:

(1) Acknowledged Police Raids on Homes – these are the operations that involve the
police going to the place of residence of a suspected individual, the suspects are
usually also killed within their residences witnessed by family members or other
people living in the general vicinity.

* Cited in the same report by Amnesty International, a specific case

happened in Batangas City, police claim that they were serving a search
warrant in the home of an alleged member of a drug syndicate and killed
the suspect due to him resisting arrest and firing back at the police. The
wife of the victim, who was present during the entire encounter, presented
a contradictory account on the events that took place. She stated that after
police entered the house, her husband was ordered to put his hand on the
wall and was then frisked. Unarmed, her husband was then shot at close
range and killed. She claimed her husband once worked for the police as
an “asset”.

(2) Alleged Buy-Bust Operations – these are the operations where police perform an
undercover purchase of drugs with the purpose of directly confronting the dealer
and making an arrest. In cases in which there is the involvement of an
extrajudicial killing, the police consistently claim that the suspect was in
possession of firearms and retaliated to the police during the confrontation. The
result being the death of the suspect; witnesses and the families of the victims
commonly testify that these encounters were actually unlawful killings

* The case of 33-year old father of five children, Uleyses Baja is a cited
example of an extrajudicial killing arising from these alleged buy-bust
operations. According to family and close friends, Baja actually sold and used
illegal drugs; however, after the police conducted a house visitation under
Oplan Tokhang Baja had accepted surrender and allowed the police to
confiscate his merchandise and paraphernalia. On the evening of August 2016,
he became another statistic after the police conducted a buy-bust operation in
his area. According to police testimony, Baja was dealing drugs and had
sensed that his customers were actually undercover police officers. He
allegedly attempted to pull out a gun but it malfunctioned; police then killed
him in order to “neutralize” him.

* Several witnesses have a different version of the events that involved Uleyses
Baja and had claimed that the police testimony was false; specifically a
woman who happened to be walking with her friends to a disco had seen Baja
sitting next to another man in a wooden shed and exchanged greetings with
him. Suddenly a blue car pulled up and four men with black uniforms got out
from the vehicle and approached the wooden shed:

“Two men were asking, ‘Who among you is Ulyses?’ The other guy said, ‘Sir,
it’s not me.’ They told the guy, ‘Run, you didn’t see anything.’ The guy ran in
front of us. ... I saw Ulyses raise his arms and said ‘Sir, I already stopped
doing that.’ ... I was just across the street. I was nervous, at the first gunshot I
wanted to run but I couldn’t because I was too nervous, by the third gunshot I
ran, when I stopped at a store [down the street], I could see my knees

There didn’t seem to have been a conversation. Ulyses immediately raised his
hands and said, ‘I already stopped.’ I only expected they would arrest Ulyses,
I didn’t expect they would kill him.”

(Interview Transcript, cited in AI 2017, p. 23)

(3) Killings Under Detention – these are the killings that occur after the police had
managed to detain the suspected individual; these incidents demonstrate that
surrendering to the police does not completely equate to safety behind bars as
previously cited in Mogato and Baldwin’s Reuter’s Report (2017). The police as
usual, claimed that the victims were the primary aggressors and only reacted

* Detailed in the same report and two (2) news articles written by Erika
Sauler for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Pasay Police Kill Another Drug
Suspect, Gun Grabber, Cops Claim” (2016) and “Execution at Pasay
Police Station” (2017) is the case of Jaypee Bertes who had decided to
surrender to the municipal authorities in Pasay City after learning that his
name was listed on the “narco list” a dealer; he cleared his small residence

of any drugs according to the accounts of his wife, Harra Kazuo. The
police reports claim that Jaypee and his father Renato Bertes were caught
with the possession of methamphetamine packets; the officers happened to
run into them during their patrols as the father and son were gambling on
the street. This was immediately contested by Kazuo by testifying that the
police had knocked on their door in the middle of the night just about
when they were ready to sleep. Several police officers had severely beaten
Jaypee while the others searched the house for drugs without a search
warrant. Jaypee still badly bruised and his father Renato, tried to stop the
police from ransacking their residence. They were arrested and taken to
the police station. It has been noted during the autopsy report that Jaypee
had sustained a serious fracture in his right arm and multiple bruises in his
body right after the police encounter in his residence.

* Jaypee and Renato were still alive by the time Kazuo made her way to the
Pasay City Police Station the following day at 10 am; the Station of Anti-
Illegal Drugs-Special Operations Task Group (SAID-SOTG) was in
charge in detaining the two men. However, by 5 pm Kazuo had received a
call from the police station informing her of the deaths of both Jaypee and
Renato; she saw the bodies of both men riddled with bullet holes. The
police report claimed that the middle aged Renato tried to wrestle the gun
of an officer as they were being accompanied to their cells; the officer
reacted to Renato’s aggression and killed him by shooting. Further into the
police report, it was written that Jaypee after seeing his father getting
killed retaliated to the same officer by grabbing his gun; this prompted
another officer in the vicinity to shoot at Jaypee which killed him.

* The Commission of Human Rights (CHR) argued the validity of the police
report as it has been noted that both of the men had serious injuries during
the supposed instance where they attacked the police officers, especially
Jaypee who had his right arm broken. The alleged attack of father and son
on the officers in the police station has been ruled an “impossibility” due
to the two men’s inability due to their sustained injuries.

Among the operations conducted as part of Oplan Tokhang, a specific case of

extrajudicial killing that took place on the middle of August 2017 took the center stage in
the discussion of Duterte’s Drug War; Kian de los Santos (17), a senior high school
student from a Catholic School was killed in Caloocan City by anti-drug officers
belonging to the Caloocan City police force. This incident was served as a wake up call
to many Filipinos regarding the haphazard approach that the Duterte administration has
handled the problem with drugs on the Philippines. According to United Nations special
rapporteur Agnes Callamard in an interview in early September 2017, the killing of a
minor shook the perception of the entire nation of Duterte’s Anti-Drug Campaign, it can
be considered to be a significant turning point. (Morales, ABS-CBN 2017, as cited
in Mateo, Philippine Star 2017)

Kian’s alleged fostered connections to illegal drugs and the common story of retaliation

as he was being apprehended was the reasoning cited by the police for his killing;
however, it has been revealed that the police had supposedly only been able to confirm
this “connection” to illegal drugs after the fact that they had killed him. It was noted by
now removed Northern Police District Chief Robert Fajardo that the police did not have a
specific target on the time of operations that led to the death of Kian back in August
2016; however he claimed that he can “prove” Kian’s involvement in illegal drugs. A
certain Chito Bersaluna, the also removed Caloocan Police Chief claimed that the Kian’s
social media postings acquired from an old cellphone was irrefutable proof that he was a
drug runner. (Morales, ABS-CBN 2017) These statements from the actual police
prove a disturbing tendency to “cover-up” the truth in the incidents of killings under their
police operations; this further adds to the notion of an illicit conspiracy within the police
under Duterte’s directive.

Conflicting evidence had also been presented in the police’s claims of Kian retaliating
with firearms as he was being apprehended; the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
referenced Kian’s autopsy report that showed that he was shot in the head as he lied in a
fetal position. Security footage from the area that showed the encounter also contradicted
this claim as it was seen on video that police had accosted the victim and dragged him
towards a river and killed him. The place of which where the victim was killed is peculiar
due to the fact that it was in the opposite direction of the police station; this suggested
that the policemen did not have any intention of detaining him. A gun, supposedly the
weapon Kian used in his “shootout” with police was submitted as evidence; forensic
testing also did came with in negative gun powder residue in the hands of the victim
which proves that he did not in fact fire a gun in the time of the encounter. (Tupas,
Inquirer 2017)

It is important to note that the police also suffered casualties and fatalities as a
consequence of Oplan Tokhang drug operations, thirteen (13) policemen were said to
have died and thirty nine (39) were wounded from July 2016 to October 2016 according
to statistics provided by the PNP. (as cited in Navallo, ABS-CBN 2017) Duterte’s “War
on Drugs”, although creates more deaths on the side of purported drug dealers and users,
also has a negative impact on the police force; not only does did it result in the needless
deaths of thousands during its supposed 8-month long implementation but it encouraged
the police to participate in illegal executions that damaged the Philippine National Police
as an institution.

A.5.2 - The Philippine/International Drug Problem and the Drug Industry

The problem regarding the prevalent existence of the drug industry is a problem that
concerns the entire world; it has been documented that 247 million people globally used
drugs in 2015. Out of the cited figure, 29 million are afflicted with drug addiction and
other drug related disorders but only 1 in 6 of these people are actively seeking treatment
through rehabilitation programs. Globally, drug use did not see considerable increase or
decrease; therefore the situation is considered to be stable. However, there are certain
regions in the world that have seen significant increases in drug use compared to “stable”
areas. (UNODC 2016)

The Drug Industry is a lucrative and prevalent underground economy around the world
even in the past; in the 1990’s, the annual production of heroin was marked up to 550
metric tons while cocaine produced 100 metric tons annually. The estimated economic
expenditure on these illicit drugs in the same era was priced at $57 billion in the United
States and 4 million pounds in the United Kingdom. Despite being the behemoth of an
industry, the manner of distribution and the supply and demand of illicit drugs cannot be
fully deciphered as there is little known documented knowledge regarding the topic.
However, there exist some outlines regarding the distribution methods that the illicit drug
industry utilizes which can be described and categorized. According to Gilman and
Pearson (1991), the traditional perception to the distribution system in the drug industry
is likened to a “pyramid”; at the top of the pyramid lies large scale manufacturers and
importers that filter down their products to lower level dealers who sit at the bottom. (as
cited in Hough and Natarajan 2000)

Studies conducted by Hough and Natarajan (2000) have led to the uncovering of apparent
common hierarchal characteristics among drug distributing organizations that can still
take different forms. These categorizations were derived from the analysis of thirty-nine
(39) American drug-dealing organizations by sorting then according to tasks given to
members and organizational structure:

(a) Freelancers – are the small groups who do not work with any hierarchal structure
with entrepreneurial characteristics that focuses on personal motivations.
(b) Family Businesses – groups that exhibit clear hierarchal structure and authority
that comes from family ties among the members.
(c) Communal Businesses – groups that can exhibit any of the previously mentioned
traits but do not have a set format of hierarchy or power structure, these groups
are commonly bound to common ties such as ethnicity.
(d) Corporations – these are considerably large groups with formally defined
hierarchies and clear divisions of labor among members.

In an international context, the drug industry is deeply ingrained in many countries as

illicit drugs are commonly distributed by large groups of varying amounts of power. The
primary motivation is the acquisition of the lucrative profits arising from drug trafficking
as the supply is provided to addicted individuals from around the world.

In the Philippines, the Dangerous Drugs Board’s (DDB) National Household Survey in
2015 came up with the figure of 1.8 million drug users wherein 38 percent were without
employment. In February 2016, PDEA reported 11,321 out of the 42,065 (27%) of the
barangays in the country were affected by drug distribution and addiction amongst its
constituents; these barangays are mostly based in urbanized areas. Most notably the
National Capital Region (NCR) boasts the highest rate of being affected with a 93 percent
of its municipalities having problems with drug distribution and drug use.
Methamphetamine is the most commonly abused drug in the Philippines, which is
manufactured within the country and continually smuggled through airports.
Methamphetamine or “Shabu” has total domination over the Philippine illicit drug

market; it garners a 90 percent use amongst arrested individuals in followed by marijuana

and other party drugs such as ecstasy. (PDEA 2013, DDB 2015, as cited in PNP 2016)

The primary hot bed of drug trade, manufacturing and distribution in the Philippines is
heavily situated in the National Capital Region (NCR); the production of illicit drugs
commonly takes place in non-suspecting residential areas within affluent subdivisions,
condominiums and apartments. From 2002 to 2013, 89 drug laboratories used for
production was dismantled by authorities with the highest number at 11 laboratories back
in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Larger laboratories can produce up to 50 kilograms of
meth while small “kitchen type” labs can only produce 10 kilograms. The prices of illicit
drugs in the Philippines are heavily dependent on the amount of demand in relation to
supply; the quality and area where the drugs were produced are also factors that have an
effect in its overall worth. In December 2013, a gram of methamphetamine was worth
3,800 – 10,000 PHP per gram. NCR has the cheapest price of meth per gram at 3,800
PHP. (PDEA 2012, 2013, DDB 2015)

Illegal Drug Trafficking is the most lucrative and dominant drug activity in the Philippine
Market; drug lords constantly innovate new ways of making their illegal activities more
efficient and harder to detect by authorities. Drug syndicates effectively export and
transport their goods to the country commonly through the exploitation of the
geographical nature of the Philippines; the open coastlines are ideal for smuggling
activities along with airports, seaports and economic zones are common points of entry of
illegal drugs into the country. (PDEA 2012, 2013)

According to the PNP (2016) and PDEA (2012, 2013) Drug syndicates hold the most
influential and largest role in the distribution of drugs in the Philippines; these groups are
the pillars that hold up the industry of illicit drugs. There are numerous international drug
syndicates responsible for most of the flowing drug supply that operate in the country; the
dominant presence of these groups in a global scale is an consequence of the further
growing rate of globalization that encourages liberal movement and transfer of
individuals and commerce. Authorities have able to identify three (3) major types drug
syndicates that actively circulate their illegal merchandise in the country:

(1) The Chinese or Filipino-Chinese Drug Syndicates dominate the Philippine drug
market through the continued facilitation of production, manufacturing and
organized smuggling. Their illegal activities are mostly confined within their
groups with a few select Filipino locals involved; these pursuits constantly
maintain the illegal drug supply in the country. These syndicates are also
responsible for the presence of “shabu labs”.

(2) The African Drug Syndicate (ADS) is a group mainly headed by African nationals
that operate within the Philippines; they are the ones responsible for the
prevalence of the practice of smuggling drugs through airports by employing drug
couriers that are paid large amounts of money.

(3) The Mexican-Sinaloa Drug Cartel is a new group that operates in the Philippines;

this cartel had formed connections with Chinese Drug Syndicates in the country in
order to successfully penetrate the illicit drug market.

A.5.3 - Oplan Tokhang Compiled Surveys, Satisfaction Ratings and Public


In the midst of prevalent condemnation of the international community due to the

inherent human rights violations towards the anti drug program implemented in the
Philippines, the Duterte administration has consistently garnered outward public support;
Oplan Tokhang in general public perception has been relatively well accepted in its early
conception, up to today as a majority of Filipinos still show a general satisfaction towards
the “War on Drugs” endorsed by the government. According to surveys conducted by
Social Weather Station (SWS) in a presentation by SWS Deputy Director Vladimyr
Licudine on October 2017, 77 percent of the 1,500 individuals primarily from NCR who
participated in the survey said they were “satisfied” to the government’s approach to
dealing with the drug problem. On another independent survey conducted between
February and May in 2017 presented by Bloomberg, it noted 78 percent of 1,000
respondents of a “face-to-face” survey claimed overall support to the anti-drug campaign
of the Duterte administration. (as cited in Talabong, Rappler 2017, Bloomberg 2017)

However it should be noted that the results presented by the SWS has already seen a
significant decrease compared to the earliest days of the Duterte administration; the 78
percent rating already suffered a minus 13 percent this September (2017) in comparison
to September last year (2016) with the net satisfaction clocking at an 84 percent rating.
The drop in satisfaction ratings are a result of more Filipinos having fears of them or
someone they know become a victim of the brutal anti-drug operations headed by the
police. In another survey conducted by SWS, it has noted that among the respondents, 73
percent were overtly concerned that the next victim would either be them or someone in
close proximity. Furthermore according to in another noncommissioned survey
conducted by SWS that was conducted in the middle of June 2017, there is a notable split
between people who believe in the police claims of drug suspects retaliating when
apprehended; an approximate 6 out 10 Filipinos do not believe the police’s version of
events, 75 percent out of 1,200 respondents were in agreement of the notion of the police
killings of suspects who already surrendered. (as cited in Talabong, Rappler 2017,
Andrade, Inquirer 2017)

One of the more daunting aspects about these results in the same survey is the fact that
there is a 17 percent of participants who claimed that they personally know alleged drug
suspects who were summoned by the police; they had contested the notion that these
people were involved in illegal drugs as they had testified that they were not in fact drug
pushers nor users. 50 percent of the previously mentioned 17 percent hold the belief that
police assets responsible for pointing out suspected individuals had “lied” to the police
and directed them to their enemies knowing that the police may kill them. This
considerable surge of condemnation from the public is partly a consequence of the

previously mentioned killing of 17-year-old Kian de los Santos; it is one of the first cases
that presented actual evidence of the police conducting unprovoked killings through
video footage. Part of the general public, confronted with the reality of the nature of
Oplan Tokhang and its consequences, had decided to rescind their support for the
campaign of the administration. (as cited in Andrade, Inquirer 2017)

Overall, despite the majority approving of the anti-drug campaign, it can be noted that the
resulting net satisfaction ratings were significantly lower among the people who did not
believe that the individuals summoned were involved with illegal drugs. An article
written by Ballaran for the Daily Inquirer, “SWS: Most Filipinos Believe Not All
Summoned For Oplan Tokhang are Addicts, Pushers” (2017), cited another survey
conducted by the SWS in September 2017 that involved 1,500 respondents. The sample
was composed from Filipinos from different areas in the Philippines; 600 from all Luzon
not including Metro Manila, 300 from Metro Manila, 300 from Visayas and 300 from
Mindanao. The results are as follows:

(a) 49% (735) believed that not all alleged suspects called up for Oplan Tokhang
were actually drug pushers or addicts.
(b) 36% (540) held a firm perception that these individuals were certainly involved
with the illicit drug trade.
(c) 14% (200) claim to not know anything about the suspected individuals.
(d) 2% (30) claimed that these individuals were not at all involved with drugs.

Aside from the surveys conducted by the SWS, “Pulse Asia” is another polling firm that
conducted their own studies regarding the public perception to Oplan Tokhang that
provided another layer of perspective on the issue. The Philippine National Police
themselves used the results provided by Pulse Asia as a proper justification to the anti-
drug operations, despite the increased prevalence of extrajudicial killings. The survey
yielded the sentiment of people feeling safer within their neighborhoods in comparison to
previous years since the implementation of Oplan Tokhang; 81 percent of the respondents
from the cumulative results of respondents from NCR, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao
agreed with the notion of their communities being generally safer. (as cited in Fonbuena,
Rappler 2017)

Rodrigo Duterte as the president of the Republic of the Philippines has seen an
overflowing amount of support from the majority of the public ever since he was elected
into office back in May 2016 elections with a significantly substantial 16 million votes.
The overtly positive perception of many Filipinos to Duterte is mostly attributed as
consequence of the incompetence of the previous administration; many supporters claim
that Duterte’s rough nature is a sign of his sincerity and strength as a leader. As he in
their perception “had things done” while past presidents barely even try to put in an effort
to change things. Further expanding on the discussion is the image Duterte built as he
was campaigning for the presidential position; he brandished himself as a person who did
not belong to the typical economic, political or social elite being relatively unknown to
the majority of Filipinos prior to his presidency. Some Filipinos also believe that the
violence that arises from the drug war is “inevitable” as it is a sacrifice that has to be

made in order to achieve the change that this country (Philippines) had not seen in a very
long time. (Quiano and Perry, CNN 2016, Bevin, Washington Post 2017)

The outward support for the administration’s war on drugs can be partially attributed to
the effort and less than ethical tactics utilized by the state to spread propaganda that paint
the implemented policies of Oplan Tokhang in a good perspective. This manipulation is
apparent according to independent reports published by a Human Rights Watch Dog
based in the United States of America, the Duterte administration employs “keyboard
warriors” to further stimulate support for the drug war. This keyboard army allegedly
receives monetary compensation to manipulate public perception through social media
intervention; comments and political content is created to suppress dissenting opinions
and to continually bolster support for the administration. The influence of online
propaganda and manipulation in this modern age play an integral role in the ability of
people to properly perceive certain issues through creating smokescreens. (as cited in
Mindanews 2017)

Duterte is a leader that holds untold charisma over the Filipino people, as he is
significantly different amongst the previous leaders of the Philippines; it can almost be
said that he is somewhat of a fresh breath of air for a majority of the masses. His
perceived image of not being part of the ruling class appeals to the class perception of
many Filipinos as they can consider Duterte as “one of them”. His explicit profanity and
enthusiastically delivered rhetoric appeal is commonly cited as an indicator of sincerity to
his listeners; this brash and crude attitude is what painted him as a strong leader on the
surface. These projected rhetorical traits allow the facilitation of his cult of personality
that appeals to the Philippine masses that consequently lead to outward public support for
Oplan Tokhang.

This public perception of Duterte can be classified as a perpetuated “Cult of Personality”

in modern politics; this terminology stands for the practice of the state to promote an
idealized image of its head of state through the use of mainstream media in order to
create a personal worship in a society. This is further detailed by the theory of
“Charismatic Authority” written by prominent sociologist Max Weber; the state is a
system that is persisted through the relationships between humans that is kept in place by
power that is commonly acquired through violence. In order for the continued existence
of the state, those who are below the government must submit to the rule of those in
power; the beliefs of the people in the existence of a legitimate system are one of the
main proponents for obedience and credible authority. (as cited Lu 2014)

The power of charismatic authority can be applied to Rodrigo Duterte as the definition of
the term charisma means a specific quality that a leader possesses that can make him/her
endowed exceptional powers and traits. It is not about who Duterte actually is as a
person, but rather it is centered on the collective perception of those subjected to this
charismatic authority that decides the overall validity of the charisma. This is apparent in
the existence of several Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) groups that continually bring
outward support to the administration primarily through social media and propaganda.
Furthermore, the cause of “eliminating the drug problem” is also an effective tool to

consolidate Duterte’s leadership; each cult of personality pushes for a specific mission to
be realized which is a mission with is a vision of the future that a leader supposedly
represents. The demonization of drug dependents perpetuated by the government is an
easily relatable call that many Filipinos can believe in; this mission is an integral
component to the machinations that bond the administration and its followers that guides
the direction in which how the undertaking will proceed. (Lu 2014)

A.5.4 – Implications About Oplan Tokhang, Drug Addiction and the Poor

It can be noted that the victims of extrajudicial killings under Oplan Tokhang is
disproportionately anchored to those who belong to the poorer sectors of Philippine
society; the large majority of victims are those who live on the slums and other
impoverished areas of residence. The death of a family member who comes from a
poverty-stricken familial background will often cause further financial difficulties for the
remaining members of the household. (Ballaran, ABS-CBN 2016)

Grief-stricken family members often cite the involvement of their killed loved ones in the
illicit drug trade came about due to the lack of opportunities to make a proper living to
support their households; furthermore, those who employ the use of methamphetamine or
shabu do so to make themselves able to further comply with the long work hours required
in order to satisfy the financial needs of their families. (AI 2017) It has been previously
discussed in an earlier section on this thesis, “The Correlation of Poverty and Addiction”
(p. 23-25) that the presence of abject poverty is a significant catalyst to individuals falling
into addiction as the atmosphere created by this mode of living can easily drive a
person’s introduction to substance abuse.

The words of Peter Baume (2000), although talking about the “madness and hypocrisy”
of the drug policy in Australia, can be applied to the context of the Philippines. He had
said that it is infinitely easier to demonize the presence and users of illicit drugs than to
actually address the underlying causes that come with the problem of drug abuse, which
is the rampant predominance of poverty and general environment of hopelessness. It can
be said Oplan Tokhang is a haphazard solution to address the drug problem in the
Philippines, as it merely prefers to “erase” the addicts who are not the actual problem but
instead merely a symptom of the larger ill in society; it does not take into account the
factors and motivations that lead drug abuse and only serves to facilitate the killings of its
own supposed constituents.

However, despite the fact that the poor are the predominant targets of his anti-drug
campaign, Duterte asserts that rhetoric that either rich or poor can be killed as long as
these people foster some sort of involvement in the illicit drug trade. He mentioned that
the existence of drug runners couldn’t be without the presence of suppliers; therefore all
are culpable to be victimized under Oplan Tokhang. He further reiterates his point that
the killing of so-called “criminals” is not a human rights violation, as criminals should
not be perceived to be part of humanity. (as cited in Regalado, Philippine Star 2017)

Oplan Tokhang as a patented policy of the Duterte administration eventually came to its
supposed end on October 12, 2017. Under the direct order of the president himself, PNP
chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa announced the termination of the centerpiece of the War
on Drugs on the Philippines; the directive of implementing measures against the drug
problem was passed on from the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA), making PDEA the sole agency to be put in charge of drug
related issues in the country. (as cited in Philippine Star 2017)

A.6.0 - Cross-Referencing the “War on Drugs” in an International Context

The concept of the “War on Drugs” was brought into the world’s center stage in 1971
when then US President Richard Nixon declared drugs as “public enemy number one”,
this declaration led to the advent of a global campaign that sought to eliminate illicit
drugs and illegal use. In the present, the results of this campaign that saw its start over 40
years ago can be considered a failure; this war on drugs only led to (1) the mass
incarceration of non-violent drug dependents, (2) corruption between officials, (3)
widespread political destabilization, (4) violence in Latin America, Asia and Africa and
(5) the systemic abuse of human rights across the world. The states in several countries
around the world had poured a significant amount of resources in the billions into this
attempt at achieving a world without drugs, yet despite all this, it only led to further
fueling of the power of drug cartels and upped the quality of drugs in the market.
(Kurzgesagt 2016)

The main line of thinking behind the concept of “War on Drugs” is that the absence of
drugs equals to removing the entire problem completely; the current model in place
regarding the policies of drug control involves authorities working to destroy the illicit
drug supply and the incarceration of drug offenders. This line of thinking may appear to
make logical sense at first glance, however, this strategy ignores the fundamental aspect
of “supply and demand”. The operational model of the “War on Drugs” aims to
aggressively remove the supply of drugs but does not take into consideration the
reduction of the demand; this oversight leads to the prices of illicit drugs to go up; the
drug market is not “price sensitive”. This tactic is proven to work on stunting the sales of
other products, but illicit drugs will continually be consumed no matter how high the
prices are; the most daunting long term implications of this faulty strategy is the
stimulation of the production of more high quality drugs and the recruitment of more
drug traffickers that increases the availability of drugs. The described currently occurring
situation is called the “Balloon Effect”. (Laffiteau 2010, Kurzgesagt 2016)

This approach is proven to not be effective as it only further stimulates the demand for
illicit drugs. The current model, instead of having a dampening effect on the supply as
intended, merely led to the unforeseen consequence of further spreading the
manufacturing and distribution of drugs in small rural town areas. The attempted
destruction of large-scale drug production rings by the state only paved the way to the
rise of many decentralized small-scale producers that used over the counter medicines as
raw materials to produce less pure but still effectively strong variants of
methamphetamine. The removal of large-scale and organized manufacturers and

distributors untowardly pushed the small time dealers and users to resort to “self-
production”; the final consequence was a boom in rural laboratories and hazardous
explosions in small kitchen production labs used by addicts to in an attempt to produce
their own supply of methamphetamine. (Laffiteau 2010)

This section will discuss the tactics that the international community had put into place in
order to deal with the drug problem and will provide case studies through two (2)
countries, namely Colombia and Mexico.

A.6.1 - Colombia

Colombia was one of the first countries to take notice of the worsening problems of the
illicit drug trade within their borders; their approach was undertaken with the extensive
aid of the United States of America. In consequence, this led to the installation of the
same anti-drug operational model of prohibition. This prohibitionist approach failed to
achieve the supposed directive it was envisioned for: the materialization of a society with
significantly reduced illegal drug trafficking activities. The Colombian drug industry is a
constantly evolving and complex system that has continually been exposed to various
internal and external factors that determine its growth and development. The American
initiative, “Plan Colombia” as an effort to step in as attempt to quell the growing illicit
drug industry in the country, was an indignant and utter failure; this led to the South
American States to the development and implementation of tools, policies and
instruments that focus on a regional level that is supposed to meet the specific needs and
circumstances of a given area as a better alternative. (Cincu and Barbu 2014)

The country of Colombia has been subjected to widespread bouts of violence; the state
was rife with terrorism and insurgency since the end of the 1940’s. The political
environment in the state was described with prevalent instability and rampant violence.
The government of Colombia was faced with numerous threats of getting its power stolen
by numerous organizations and insurgents; the several existing powerful drug cartels
were one of these aforementioned groups that were vying for further political power
within the state. Although the government was being attacked from several fronts, the
governmental aid provided by the United States of America was predominantly
concerned with the “War on Drugs”. The weakened grip of the government on the
country allowed the rise to dominance of prominent figurehead Pablo Escobar who was
the prime leader of the Medellin Drug Cartel. Escobar had a public image of being a
modern day “Robin Hood” that allowed his organization to operate with complete
impunity; the judges and officials who attempt to prosecute Escobar and his drug cartel
were summarily executed. (Paul 2014)

A specifically US-trained National Police Team eventually killed Escobar; his death led
to the dissolution of the Medellin Drug Cartel. However, Escobar’s death did not mean
the end of the prevalence of the drug problem in Colombia. The void left by the Medellin
Cartel was just as easily filled by an equally if not even more powerful Cali Drug Cartel;
the new dominant organization was able to successfully penetrate the Colombian drug
market through the use of widespread corruption. The development of an advanced

counterintelligence network and a specialized operational model that dealt with more
aggressive and widespread criminal activities were the tools employed by the Cali Drug
Cartel that led to even worse political destabilization, drug distribution and perpetuated
violence in the country. (Paul 2014)

The US-aided drug war in Colombia was a failure as it only led to the further rise of the
more powerful and efficient Cali Drug Cartel in the wake of Pablo Escobar’s death; the
worsening problem is an adverse effect of the ineffective approach of “Plan Colombia”,
which was a policy that centered itself on the disruption on the supply of illicit drugs, the
destruction of drug production and the criminalization of drug use; this approach has
been previously mentioned to be widely ineffective due to the “Balloon Effect”. The
approach undertaken in Colombia did not at all properly address the drug problem, this
failure only led to further destabilization and violence in the country; South American
leaders as an attempt to alleviate the situation called for an alternative approach to
solving the drug problem that did not center on prohibition methods as compared to the
current implemented global model of drug control. (Cincu and Barbu 2014)

A.6.2 - Mexico

Mexico’s drug situation has always been consistently compared with Colombia as both
countries are with similarities in regards to the prevalence of violence, the rampant
poverty due to the widening gap of income inequality and the comparable language and
culture. However, Mexico is not Colombia, therefore the a completely new discussion
must be undertaken in order to properly understand how the “War on Drugs” approach
has come into effect in this country. Mexico is can be considered to be a significantly
lucrative economy as it the 14th largest in the world, yet despite this the country is still
prominently disjointed; its government is rife with institutionalized corruption with the
bureaucratic system being described to be a failure of the state. (Paul et. al 2014)

The most noticeable negative trait of Mexico is that its level of violence can be likened to
war-torn countries – the countries that have been subjected to civil wars, widespread
insurgency and ethnic cleansings, yet Mexico has not experienced any of these conflicts;
the last recorded armed conflict in the country was the Mexican Revolution which
happened in the 1920’s. This uncommonly high level of violence in the country can be
partially attributed to the highly prominent presence of organized crime and drug
trafficking; however, the presence of these illegal entities is cannot be fully pinned as the
cause of widespread violence in Mexico, as these organized crimes and drug industries
have been significantly growing in other areas than Mexico but have not experienced a
noticeable increase in violence. (Paul et. al 2014)

The Mexican Drug War has claimed an estimated figure of 30,000-40,000 people killed –
civilians, drug cartel members and federal employees; the outward presence of conflict
has disrupted the lives of citizens as the level of violence could not be effectively
controlled by the government, with the kidnappings and murders tied to the illegal drug
industry spilling over the border of Texas in the United States. The outward violence in
Mexico can be traced to three (3) main sources: (a) internal disputes between the

members of drug cartels, (b) cartel to cartel conflicts and (c) the government waging war
against the cartels. The states focus on eliminating drug cartels started when Felipe
Calderon was elected as head of the state of Mexico in 2006; federal agents were
commonly dispatched to eliminate high-level drug personalities. Calderon’s implemented
tactic led to cartels retaliating with unleashing multiple waves of violence as an attempt
to fight for turf. Calderon claims that this retaliation from the cartels is a definite
indicator of the organized drug groups being successfully rattled; his critics contest this
and claimed that his haphazard approach only made the already unfavorable situation
worse. (Gautheir 2012)

The main course of action that the Mexican government takes as a countermeasure
against the powerful drug cartels is the deployment of the state military to directly engage
in combat with the cartel’s forces; the state deployed an approximate figure of 10,000
police officers and 50,000 soldiers as an attempt to completely eradicate the number of
cartels in Mexico, yet despite this considerable effort from the government, the level of
violence continues to increase with the drug related deaths rising to 40,000 since the
Calderon administration’s installation. (Gautheir 2012)

With the worsening situation in Mexico, one can ask on what grounds did the
government came to the assessment for instigating the war on drugs. Castañeda in his
article, “Mexico’s Failed Drug War” (2010) for the CATO Institute Economic
Development Bulletin, outlined Calderon’s reason for declaring the all-out war against
illicit drugs; the discussion can be grouped into three (3) main rationales:

(1) The perceived violence in Mexico was allegedly worsening according to

Calderon; he had claimed that there had been a noticeable increase in instances of
drug related violence during the previous administration. This claim is difficult to
verify as Mexico is a country that had established a proper congress, free press
and a semblance of accountability and transparency only in the last 15 years.
There had been no proper documentation of the number drug related killings in
the 1980’s up to early 2000’s; therefore, there is no conceivable way in empirical
evidence to verify Calderon’s claim of worsening violence in the country.

(2) The prevalence of corruption, according to Calderon, is worse than ever before
compared to previous years. However, the same dilemma comes about in
dissecting the truth to this claim; there is neither statistical evidence nor
documented case studies to fully verify that drug related corruption had gotten
more predominant compared to 40-30 years ago.

(3) Finally, Calderon had claimed that the Mexican Drug Cartels had been able to
effectively penetrate the political arena in the local and federal level that the state
is losing its control over its territories. He further detailed that Mexico is turning
into a country centered on drug consumption, yet the same problem in the two
previously mentioned rationales by Calderon also presents itself in this instance.
The government cannot properly substantiate this claim through empirical data.

In the end, the government of Mexico has been forced to acknowledge the fact that these
methods are not a suited solution to the drug problem; solving the problem with illegal
drug trafficking is an impossible goal to attain if the approach of a full-scale war that
aims to eradicate the drug supply is pursued. The government of Mexico cited US
influence as one of the causes that allows the continued propagation of the illicit drug
industry in Mexico; the US constantly pushes for these anti-drug policies in the country
without addressing the demand of drugs that further worsens the previously mentioned
“Balloon Effect”, also it is further detailed by Mexican officials that the US consistently
facilitates the traffic of weapons to Mexico which further perpetuates the state of
widespread violence the country is experiencing. The optimal strategy for dealing with
the illicit drug problem should focus on lowering the demand for drugs through finding
an adequate solution for drug addiction; addressing the actual illness of addiction will
lead to fewer instances of drug addicts, and in consequence lower the demand for illicit
drugs. (Castañeda 2010, Shirk 2011)

A.7.0 - On Rehabilitation as an Alternative to the “War on Drugs” Approach

The approach of directly waging war with the illicit drug industry is widely ineffective; it
consistently created a considerable drain the resources of various countries without
showing anything significant as a result. An alternative would be to focus on full
rehabilitation and reintegration of addicted individuals; it should be noted that each
rehabilitation program should be handled differently according to the substance that the
individual was exposed to. Drug addiction is a multi-faceted affliction that has multiple
models for treatment that was previously employed with varying results of success.
However, there are certain policies that have actually seen governmental implementation
and have proven success more than other forms of rehabilitation treatment; an example of
these aforementioned methods is the “Four Pillars of Drug Rehabilitation” and the
“Harm Reduction Strategy” employed by the government of Switzerland. (Kiely and
Egan 2000, Piper 2008, See 2013)

This section will discuss the strategies associated with drug rehabilitation to further
explore its implications to the previously mentioned “Balloon Effect” as compared to
currently pervasive “War on Drugs” model commonly endorsed and undertaken by
multiple states around the world, including in the context of the Philippines.

A.7.1 - Models of Rehabilitation and Treatment

The problem of narcotic addiction has been widely prevalent ever since the earlier parts
of human society; the mode and classification of drug rehabilitation treatments has been
already outlined as early as the 1910’s. Arthur Greenfield had noted in his article,
“Public Heath Reports: Treatment for Drug Addiction” (1919), that most methods used
for treating addicted individuals can be grouped into two (2) major stratifications:

(a) “Ambulatory Treatments” refer to the types of methods that involves the
prescription of physicians to afflicted individual the addictive narcotics that
patient is completely free to control in terms of possession, meaning that the

physician does not have an active role in the method of treatment; the prescribed
patient is able to take the prescribed dosages in any manner as part of self-
administration so that in time, they may eventually be able to keep their addiction
in check.

(b) “Institutional Treatments” refer to the types of methods that involve the direct
influence and intervention of physicians in the method of treatment. The use of
narcotics, if required is directly carried out under the discretion of the attending
physician; this method is commonly more stringent and comes with formalized
programs that must be followed by the patient.

The ambulatory method is a rarely implemented mode of treatment in comparison to its

institutionalized counterparts as it carries more risk and provided less control to the
attending physician; due to this nature, the authorities does not commonly encourage the
utilization of these styles of treatment. However, there are instances in which these forms
of treatment can have its merits considering these are methods that rely heavily on the
concept of “good faith” and putting the power to the patients themselves; it can be said
this manner of approaching the steps of rehabilitation is unrestrictive and puts in the
emphasis of the patients being able to monitor themselves properly. (Greenfield 1919)

Yet the two types of treatment methods detailed by Greenfield although still arguably
relevant, is a bit removed in terms of the current methods and models of treatment that
rehabilitation centers can put into use. A research paper written Nora See, “Models and
Theories of Addiction and the Rehabilitation Counselor” (2013), further outlined modern
approaches to treating drug addiction; there are five (5) treatment models used as
methodological frameworks that was explored:

(1) The “Moral Model” is a mode of treatment associated in instilling the idea that
addiction can be overcome with moral integrity and addiction is somewhat a
product of personal shortcoming; this imbues the afflicted individual with the
moral capacity to know that addiction should be dealt with inwardly. This method
aims to address the character defects that a patient needs to come into terms with;
yet this model is a highly defective mode of treatment as it does not see the
multiple factors that come into play when we talk about chronic addiction. The
focus on individual choices is the main motif of this model, which does not allow
it to have sympathy for patients. This model is not considered to be therapeutic
nor effective.

(2) The “Temperance Model” shows some similarities to the previously discussed
moral model and is commonly paralleled with it; this is the common model of
treatment in early eras that began in the 1840’s and persisted into the late 19th
century. The main mantra of this method is the “abstinence”; it endorses the idea
that individual will is prone to being diseased and is not strong enough to
overcome the affliction of addiction; the status of being dependent on addictive
substances is said to be an involuntary disease once an individual is exposed. This
model advocates that people should avoid all forms of addictive substances all

together. In comparison to the moral model, this method is surprisingly

sympathetic to addicts and sees them as the afflicted; the idea of supporting and
assisting an addicted individual is beneficial to this mode of treatment. A “higher
power” is needed in order to properly overcome the addiction.

(3) The “Disease Model” is a modern and scientifically grounded mode of treatment,
it is specifically stated in this framework that addiction is a medical condition, a
chronic disease that causes neurotoxic changes to the brain and the body; this
model perceives addiction as a persisting condition even after the successful
removal of exposure of the patient to the addictive substance, it also believes the
cause of addiction stems from mental or physical affliction. Moreover, this
method also subscribes to the idea that addiction is a partial product of the genetic
material that makes up an individual; however it has its flaws, as it does not
properly address the role of environmental factors to the development of addiction
and mainly shifts its focus on the internal variables. This model is commonly
utilized in therapeutic settings.

(4) The “Psychological or Character Model” is a framework that addresses the

external psychological factors that a patient may be exposed to the led to the
initiation to drug use; it believes that genetic factors do not have an outward
influence for an individual to expose themselves to addictive substances for the
first time which creates a notion that everyone is susceptible to falling into
addiction. This model primarily concerns itself with the psychological motivation
and stresses that a person can be exposed to, which may lead to the emergence of
drug dependence. The mode of treatments used for this model is predominantly
centered on psychological and behavioral therapy that aims to address the
patient’s specific stressors and problems in hopes that this will lead to positive
behavioral, interpersonal and psychological changes to the patient.

(5) The “Social Education Model” is a model that combines elements from both the
disease and psychological models; it believes that addiction is a product of both
inherited and learned behaviors. However, environmental factors are given a
higher ladder of influence in the development of addiction. Familial and
community relationships that provide consistent support to the patient are
beneficial components to controlling addiction and facilitating effective

Overall, the worldwide problem with drug addiction has warranted the use of multiple
methods with differing perceptions on how this problem should be treated; these modes
of treatment came from different eras that have varying levels of understanding on the
discussion of drug addiction. More advancements in the field of drug psychology and
rehabilitation are being made in the passage of time that allow us to further understand
how we as a society should tackle the presented dilemma.

A.7.2 – The Four Pillars of Drug Addiction and Harm Reduction Strategy

There is a concrete policy, a better alternative to the “War on Drugs”, that is currently
being implemented in various countries around the world with actual results; “The Four
Pillars of Rehabilitation refers to the four (4) aspects of drug control policy, namely: (1)
Prevention, (2) Treatment, (3) Policing and (4) Harm Reduction; out of the four
components, “harm reduction” is the most beneficial along with treatment for
chronically addicted individuals as it details the specific strategy that facilitates the
patient’s rehabilitation. (Kiely and Egan 2000, Piper 2008)

The Four Pillars program to addressing the problem to drug addiction and its four main
components is described by Bill Piper in his printed report, “A Four Pillars Approach to
Methamphetamine: Policies for Effective Drug Prevention, Treatment, Policing and
Harm Reduction” (2008). The explanation for the first three (3) components to the Four
Pillars approach is detailed as follows:

(1) Prevention programs are beneficially better as it can completely nip the problem
of addiction in the bud if properly handled; the methods used for preventing
addiction should primarily be aimed at the youth. Scare tactics and zero-tolerance
policies are proven to be ineffective and in most cases actually impede the
progress of the entire program; after school programs are one of the most
effective tools to encourage the youth to not take drugs in middle class
neighborhoods. Furthermore, the best prevention strategy should be headed with
the direct intervention of the government through providing adequate educational
opportunities, employment and general economic growth, in essence directly
addressing the instances of poverty.

(2) The advent of treatment centers and the widespread availability of treatment
services is the type of answer to the drug problem that should be adequately
funded by state resources, as it proven to be a cheaper and more effective policy
to quell the problem; it is a certainty putting drug users in jail effectively cost
more in comparison to investing in the implementation of a proper treatment
method. The government should enact proper policies that encourage addicted
people to seek out treatment and efforts to create comprehensive treatment
regimen will cost significantly less than attempting to cut the supply of drugs by
instead taking steps to lower the demand. Afflicted individuals should not be
treated as criminals as it will only prevent them from actively seeking out proper
rehabilitation for their problem; further adding, the incarceration of drug users
will only lead to long term problems and will not actually lead to anything
resembling a solution. Resigning addicts to prison sentences will only serve as a
catalyst to the destruction of families, orphaned children and the overall
deterioration of the overall health of the community.

(3) Law enforcement agencies still have a role in the solution, instead of focusing on
incarcerating and directly dealing with addicts, the police should do what they
were intended to do: the disruption of the operation of drug syndicates, arresting

violent criminals and generally keeping the neighborhoods safe; the war that the
police should be focused on are not the addicts themselves but instead should be
focused on actual dangerous criminal activity. The law should prioritize the
elimination of large drug syndicates that are operating in the country and resign
the rehabilitation program of low to medium level drug offenders to the
government. Furthermore, law enforcers should be provided with adequate
training when confronting offending individuals as to not directly disrupt the
community. E.g. non-violent confrontation.

The main centerpiece of this proposed policy in dealing with the drug problem is the
“Harm Reduction Strategy”; this is a method that primarily aims to reduce the damage
that drug addiction inflicts upon its dependents. This mode of treatment still allows the
patient to continue participating in drug use, however, the key concept of harm reduction
is that steps are taken to continually reduce the effects of addiction while still partaking in
the drug. The most significant goal of this strategy is to encourage safer patterns of drug
use; this is use continued in progressively smaller dosages until the patient is effectively
rehabilitated and is completely freed from drug dependence. (Kiely and Egan 2000)

Clements and colleagues (1996, p. 42) defines the main concept of harm reduction in his
book “Taking Drugs Seriously III, a Manual of Harm Minimizing Education on Drugs”,
through this quotation;

“An approach to education which aims to reduce the harm from drug use to the lowest
level possible. By providing accurate information about drug use and it’s risks;
developing the skills of less dangerous drug use; developing coping and helping skills;
opposing discrimination against drug users. It encourages existing and would-be drug
users to discover less dangerous ways of using and promotes helping and coping skills.”
(as cited in Kiely and Egan 2000, p.9)

A specific case study that can be cited as success of the Harm Reduction Strategy is the
country of Switzerland in 1980’s; at the time, the countries strategy of dealing with the
drug problem only consisted with three (3) of the four pillars of drug addiction.
Furthermore the number of heroin addicts in the country saw a significant increase and
numbered in the tens and thousands; this led to the existence of tolerated “needle parks”
in various cities around the country wherein users engage in open use of heroin in public
view. Addicts commonly slept in parks, publicly dealt drugs, lived in slum-like
conditions and most of these people were of poor health; deaths from heroin overdose
were a common occurrence. Eventually due to the growing public backlash, the law
enforcement agencies were forced to step in to address the drug problem. (Koeppel n.d.)

It was then that the Swiss government employed a relatively new strategy in dealing with
their public health crisis, this was Harm Reduction; the state opened completely
sponsored “heroin-maintenance centers” where addicted individuals will be provided
adequate treatment and stabilization. It is in these maintenance centers that patients get
access to free high quality heroin, clean needles, safe injection rooms, a generally safe
and livable environment under direct supervision of medical professionals; among these
services, social workers directly provide them aid regarding their problems of proper

housing and other problems that these patients are unable to deal with on their own
capacity. The end result of the implemented harm reduction strategy was a sharp decline
of drug related crimes and overdose deaths; further adding, a majority of the patients
were able to secure a living while participating in the treatment as their finances were no
longer constrained by sustaining their addiction as the drugs were already provided to
them for free. (Kurzgesagt 2016)

However, it should be noted that the Harm Reduction Strategy is not a way to completely
eliminate an individual’s dependence on addictive substances; it is a means to secure the
stability and safety of a patient all the while being effectively reintegrated as a working
member of society; it is a manner of reducing the overall negative effects of addiction to
an individual. Addiction can be a life-long affliction that affects the brain and the body
and can only be properly treated through rehabilitation. The hardline approach of the
“War on Drugs” is only a drain on government resources that lead to the perpetuation of
abuses and general human misery; harm reduction, on the other hand is cheaper and has
proven to be effective in reintegrating afflicted individuals as proper members of society
without the cost on trampling on the human rights of citizens. (Koeppel n.d., Kurzgesagt

B. Theoretical Framework

The research for this study can be divided into two major classifications in terms of the
topics discussed in the review of related literature: (a) discussions that pertain to drug
addiction and (b) discussions that pertain to the circumstances and concepts regarding the
Philippines and cross referential case studies in an international context in order to
properly draw parallels.

This study is guided by three (3) theories:

(1) The Bad-Habit Theory by Dr. Donald W. Goodwin, as a guiding principle to

define and explain the factors at play regarding substance abuse.

(2) Marxism-Leninism by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin, as a

guiding principle to examine the situation of the Philippines in the context of
poverty, the current established economic system, the government and the
implementation of policies like Oplan Tokhang.

(3) Cult of Personality coined by Nikita Khrushchev to explain the outward public
support of the Duterte administration and Oplan Tokhang garners from the
general public despite its perpetuation of extrajudicial killings amongst the poor
sectors of Philippine society.

B.1.0 - Dr. Donald W. Goodwin: The Bad-Habit Theory

The “Bad-Habit Theory” is a theory regarding the emergence of drug addiction within
individuals. It outlines the concept that drug addiction is a product of inherited factors
and learned factors that interact with one another to make up an individual’s
predisposition to drug abuse; genetic factors (inherited) and outside environmental factors
(learned) are two sides that make up the entire likeliness to falling to drug dependence at
some point of their lives.

This theory also proposes the role of an “agent”, a “host” and the environment in which
all three (3) of these factors interact with one another. (1) The agent refers to the
addictive substance itself, whether it is alcohol, illegal drugs or other forms of addictive
substances, (2) the host is the individual who has carries a certain genetic make-up that
may or may not contribute to the development of addiction once exposed to the “agent”
and (3) the environment in which can also be a contributing factor through determining
the availability of agents and the exposure to other external factors that can drive a person
to addiction.

B.2.0 - Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin: Marxism-Leninism

Marxism-Leninism is a socio-political theory that outlines the existence of social classes

and the class struggle that comes between the lower and higher classes present in society;
it perceives history as a record of the aforementioned struggles that persist in society and
believes that this conflict will continue to exist as long as the concept of classes remains
prevalent. The relationship between economical power and the possession of the means
of production is heavily discussed in Marxism-Leninism.

Marxism outlines the root-cause of social inequality; poverty and general human misery
can be attributed to the implementation of the imperialistic capitalist system in which
farmers, workers and the petite-bourgeoisie is continually being exploited by the ruling
class for further affluence. The bourgeoisie gains from the capitalist system through

monopolized ownership of the machinery for production, all the while enlisting the labor-
force of workers in exchange for inadequate compensation. The capitalists continue to
pocket most of the profit despite not having actual participation in the production while
the workers is only given meager compensation for their hard work. Farmers also
experience oppression from the system through the landlords that own vast volumes of
land while employing farmers in the same unequal dynamic. Leninism stresses the
importance of political organization within these lower classes (farmers, workers and the
petite-bourgeoisie) to effectively overcome the established system.

Marxism-Leninism also describes the role of the government or the state in the continued
oppression of the masses; Lenin specifically discussed that the state in a capitalist system
exists to protect the higher classes to preserve the status quo. Peasants and workers are
commonly abused and marginalized by a capitalist society at large due to their lack of
economic power; this economical capacity also determines the state’s bias of providing
its services toward a certain class while effectively ignoring the other.

B.3.0 – Nikita Khrushchev: Cult of Personality

The “Cult of Personality” outlines the resulting circumstance when the state, the mass
media and other sources continually provide propaganda that paints a certain figure in an
extremely charismatic light; these manufactured forms of propaganda portray the leader
as possessing traits that are especially uncommon and admirable which consequently
leads to the masses admiring the figure. This leads to certain leaders invested with this
cult of personality being able to put forth policies and lead with impunity, as public
support is basically a certainty no matter what the true nature of the regime actually is
and political dissent is seen as undesirable or can even be considered as treason against
the state. The public further lionizes the leader as more propaganda is consumed; this
leads to an idealized version of the said figurehead, which solidifies the administration’s
grip on their power.

VIII.) Methodology

The focus of this thesis was to properly assess Oplan Tokhang as an anti-drug policy, the
main question being whether or not it is an effective answer to the illicit drug problem in
the Philippines; within this main line of inquiry the topic of addiction itself, poverty and
rehabilitation was discussed in order to further establish a comprehension to the factors at
play in this discourse. It has already been reiterated in the earlier sections of this thesis,
see “Environmental and Societal Predisposition” (p. 12-15) and “Correlation of Poverty
and Addiction” (p. 23-25), that the general social atmosphere of abject poverty and
hopelessness is a major contributing factor to motivating addiction; this is especially true
in the Philippines where a significant number of the population is living below the
poverty line.

The poor sectors of Philippine society are an integral component in this study as they are
the primary victims of the administration under Oplan Tokhang. In order to properly
come to an understanding to the mode of living these poverty-stricken citizens experience

and how the state perceives them as people, numbers, literature and graphs are not
adequate forms of evidence, as it is not completely suited to effectively paint their
situation. The method of choice in order to achieve this to conduct an ”integration”
amongst them or living and talking with these people on a first hand basis; the utilization
of this method yields to the acquisition of primary qualitative data. This approach can be
considered an ethnographical method, as it is deals in the observation of people in their
natural environment.

This ethnographic approach is most effective in being able to establish an understanding

with these marginalized sectors; we need to be able to break the ivory tower setting that
commonly permeates in second-hand date gathering. The basic mass integration itself
involved a “homeless camp” in Mendiola, Manila with its residents originally coming
from the Pasig Floodway; these families were eventually driven away by the local
government and have been left with adequate choices and were forced to look for an
alternative place to live. These people chose to establish their camp in Mendiola in hopes
that the president might hear their problems and actually take measures to address their
situation. Unfortunately, they either have not been heard or being deliberately ignored by
the government after a month of camping out in the streets.

The disparage of the poor and the apparent apathetic nature of the middle classes to their
plights also needs an assessment; it was previously established in the previous sections of
this thesis, “Oplan Tokhang Compiled Surveys, Satisfaction Ratings and Public
Perception” (p.37-39) that there is a general notion of public support for the war on drugs
despite the documented extrajudicial killings mostly perpetuated on the poor at the hands
of police. The fact of the pervasive general apathy towards the poor is already a
confirmed circumstance in the literature reviews, it was decided that first hand data is
needed as supplementary information for further reiteration. This data was collected
through the survey method that inquired about the general perception, whether negative
or positive, of the respondent on Oplan Tokhang and its consequences.

IX.) Data Analysis

A.1.0 - Basic Mass Integration

The ethnographic study or more suitably known as a ”basic mass integration” was
conducted in the 1st of December and ran for a total of twelve (12) hours, it was set in the
homeless camp located in Mendiola Manila. Surrounded by the bustle and hustle of the
city of Manila and embraced by makeshift barricades, the camp was home to 50-70
people, these were mostly complete sets of families: i.e. mother, father and children.
These families were displaced from their original place of residence in the Floodway of
Pasig City by the local government headed by city mayor Robert Eusebio due to the place
being an alleged “danger zone” which is a claim contested by the people who live there;
the residents of the camp are families that live in poverty and have no sustainable source
of income. They had been staying in Mendiola since the 25th of November and in the time
of writing have been camping out for a month and six (6) days.

The residents are camping out in hopes that Rodrigo Duterte might come to hear out their
plights and address their housing; many of the residents claim that the floodway was their
place of residence for over thirty (30) years until their forced evacuation. Their main
plight is the restoration of their place of residence or the alternative of bestowing upon
them an adequate relocation site that also provided a consistent source of income. The
main risk of camping out in the streets is that disease is starting to spread amongst it
residence; this is a major concern for many of the families that reside in Mendiola,
especially if they do not have the sufficient funds to acquire medicine. Hunger is also a
major issue due to their limited resources but they manage to “scrape by” due to the help
of visitors and mass organizations. Many believe that the administration has abandoned
them and their pleas.

Among the residents, a personal correspondence was set up with Joceline Pinerite, 48
years old, who was living with her husband ailing with arthritis and two children, a 17-
year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. She recounted when police harassed her teenage son
during the violent demolition of their place of residence; she had said that her son was
merely checking the development of the situation and was using a cellphone to record the
incident. An officer spotted him recording and asked him to surrender the cellphone; the
boy refused and the officer immediately attempted to apprehend him. Joceline saw this
unfolding and immediately came to aid her son along with her husband who was pleading
the officer to “not hurt him” as he his only a kid. The young daughter also interjected
which led to the officer pulling her hair. This encounter resulted in the imprisonment of
their entire family for a period of eight (8) days.

Joceline cited this event as a gross disrespect of the police to her entire family just
because of their status as “poor”; she admits that she once believed in the words of
Rodrigo Duterte during his campaign run but now she’s starting to lose her belief in the
administration as she and her fellow displaced residents were being ignored. She also
explained that it should be a leader’s primary job to listen to the plights of the masses,
especially the marginalized classes in society. It’s as if the system is actively trying to
prevent people like her from attaining a tolerable lifestyle; Joceline also lambasts the
implementation of the “K-12” educational program as it only meant more years for her
children in school and consequently more financial burden.

In the topic of the War on Drugs, she expresses her concern that the government only
seems to target the poor; it is not proper that suspects are being killed without a proper
trial or proper evidence. She had recalled an incident of police killing that occurred on the
night of November 31st that involved a man and a woman, with the woman being heavily
pregnant. The police were allegedly looking for the man since the previous week, as he
was involved in illicit drugs, they were eventually found dead.

Overall, Joceline only wishes that she and her family was treated with respect and given
concrete opportunities to lift themselves from their status of abject poverty. In a country
that inherently makes the poor “invisible”, it’s extremely difficult to find ways to make it
better for your family. With the rampant exploitation of workers through

contractualization and minimal openings for people with low educational attainment, the
established system plays its favorites. She wishes for her children a future wherein they
do not have to experience the current financial hardship they are experiencing; she wants
to believe that she can fight for a proper source of income and a better education for her
children. It gives her a bittersweet feeling that she and her family might be spending the
Christmas season homeless and cold.

A.1.1 - Photo Documentation, Homeless Camp in Mendiola

Pic. 1 – this depicts one of the tents that the residents reside in along with their call of
proper housing.

Pic. 2 – this is in the middle of the camp with another banner calling for the return of
their place of residence. Also the “Crisis-mas Tree” an installation created by UGATLahi
Artist Collective can be seen.

Pic. 3 – this is taken in closer to the entrance; tents perched in on the streets with a
bustling city in the background.

Pic. 4 – this is the entrance to the entire homeless camp with two residents standing
guard. Two paintings also donated by UGATLahi Artist Collective depicting the calls of
workers and poverty stricken urban residents are displayed.

B.1.0 - Survey Background

The primary data collected for this study through a survey regarding public perception
about Oplan Tokhang is merely supplementary information to the previously established
facts in the literature review as confirmation.

A survey was conducted from October 25, 2017 to November 1, 2017 as a part of this
study to collect first hand data with purpose of gauging the respondents’ perception of the
actions taken in by the police in Duterte’s War on Drugs through quantitative data. It is
important to note that Oplan Tokhang by this time was already replaced by anti-drug
operations under the jurisdiction of PDEA. The survey garnered 70 respondents and
utilized the method of “convenient sampling”. The inquiry was primarily conducted on
the Internet through forums such as “Pinoy Exchange” and social media outlets such as
“Facebook”. The survey contained five (5) questions answerable by yes or no; the
questions listed on the survey are as follows:

(1) Do you support the Duterte Administration’s War on Drugs?

(2) Do you believe that the deaths drug suspects during police operations are
(3) Do you believe that drug addiction is a question of moral weakness?
(4) Do you believe the claims the police that drug suspects fired at them with firearms
during their encounters?
(5) Do you believe that Oplan Tokhang was an effective answer to the Drug Problem
in the Philippines?

The survey also asked the respondents to indicate their gender and age in order to
establish stratifications with the results; the participants were also asked to “self rate”
their financial standing as either part of the (a) “lower class”, (b) “middle class” and (c)
“upper class”.

A.1.1 - About the Respondents

The survey exclusively featured Filipinos as a sample. Of the 70 respondents, 58 (83%)

are male and 12 (17%) are female. The age brackets of respondents are as follows:

* People in their early to late 30’s; 38 respondents (54%)

* People in their early to late 20’s; 14 respondents (20%)
* People in their early to late 40’s: 11 respondents (16%)
* People older than 50: 5 respondents (7%)
* People younger than 20: 2 respondents (3%)

In the self-rated classes, wherein the respondents were asked to classify themselves based
on their financial standing, most of the respondents with 62 individuals (88%) classified
themselves as “middle class”, 6 individuals (9%) as “upper class” and 2 individuals (3%)
as “lower class”.

B.2.0 - Survey Results

The results will be compiled for each question and will be sorted by gender; age group
and self rated financial standing to further draw conclusions about the results in regards
to stratification.

1.) Do you support the Duterte Administration’s War on Drugs?

(a) Respondents that answered “YES”

* (63/70) Total respondents (90%)

* By Gender – (56) Males and (7) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (38), 20’s (11), 40’s (11), Older than 50 (2), Younger than
20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (5) Upper Class, (58) Middle Class

(b) Respondents that answered “NO”

* (7/70) Total respondents (10%)

* By Gender – (2) Males and (5) Females
* By Age Group – 20’s (3), Older than 50 (3), Younger than 20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (1) Upper Class, (4) Middle Class, (2) Lower Class.

2.) Do you believe that the deaths drug suspects during police operations are justified?

(a) Respondents that answered “YES”

* (60/70) Total respondents (86%)

* By Gender – (55) Males and (5) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (38), 20’s (9), 40’s (10), Older than 50 (2), Younger than 20
* By Financial Standing – (5) Upper Class, (58) Middle Class

(b) Respondents that answered “NO”

* (10/70) Total respondents (14%)

* By Gender – (3) Males and (7) Females,
* By Age Group – 20’s (5), 40’s (1), Older than 50 (3), Younger than 20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (1) Upper Class, (7) Middle Class, (2) Lower Class.

3.) Do you believe drug addiction is a question of moral weakness?


(a) Respondents that answered “YES”

* (65/70) Total respondents (93%)

* By Gender – (57) Males and (8) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (38), 20’s (11), 40’s (10), Older than 50 (5), Younger than
20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (5) Upper Class, (58) Middle Class

(b) Respondents that answered “NO”

* (5/70) Total respondents (7%)

* By Gender – (1) Male and (4) Females,
* By Age Group – 20’s (3), 40’s (1), Younger than 20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (1) Upper Class, (2) Middle Class, (2) Lower Class.

4.) Do you believe the claims the police that drug suspects fired at them with firearms
during their encounters?

(a) Respondents that answered “YES”

* (52/70) Total respondents (74%)

* By Gender – (48) males and (4) females
* By Age Group – 30’s (34), 20’s (7), 40’s (8), Older than 50 (2), Younger than 20
* By Financial Standing – (3) Upper Class, (49) Middle Class

(b) Respondents that answered “NO”

* (18/70) Total respondents (26%)

* By Gender – (10) Males and (8) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (4), 20’s (7), 40’s (3), Older than 50 (3), Younger than 20
* By Financial Standing – (3) Upper Class, (13) Middle Class, (2) Lower Class

5.) Do you believe that Oplan Tokhang was an effective answer to the Drug Problem in
the Philippines?

(c) Respondents that answered “YES”

* (60/70) Total respondents (86%)

* By Gender – (54) Males and (6) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (36), 20’s (11), 40’s (11), Older than 50 (1), Younger than
20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (4) Upper Class, (56) Middle Class

(d) Respondents that answered “NO”

* (10/70) Total respondents (14%)

* By Gender – (4) Males and (6) Females
* By Age Group – 30’s (2) 20’s (3), Older than 50 (4), Younger than 20 (1)
* By Financial Standing – (2) Upper Class, (6) Middle Class, (2) Lower Class.

C. - Analysis
The results of the survey in an admittedly limited sample size of seventy (70)
respondents, is still a somewhat of a valid demonstration of the apparent public support
that the Duterte administration garners in their anti-drug campaigns despite the alarming
cases of extrajudicial killings. This support is a daunting sign of many Filipinos turning a
blind eye to the ill effects of Duterte’s War on Drugs and the failure of the war on drugs
model in general. However it is important to note in the survey results that there are two
(2) respondents that had rated themselves as “lower class” and consistently answered
“no” to the questions on this survey.

The acquired results from the survey mirrors the data previously outlined in the literature
review; these numbers further establish the perceived apathy for the poor. Many among
the poor sectors, according to the gathered data, commonly display a distinct aversion to
the current policies, especially the policy of Oplan Tokhang being put forth by the
administration; this outward aversion can be tagged as a consequence of the recent
actions taken by the state that further alienated the urban poor sectors. There is an
apparent disconnect between the poor and higher classes in terms of general perception
on the drug war. The middle to upper classes sees Oplan Tokhang as a way to keep the
neighborhood clean and safe from drug offenders, while the lower class have a
perspective of fear and oppression from the state due to the threat of extrajudicial

The integration within the homeless camp in Mendiola provided insight into a direct
example of the state pandering to the higher classes in society; these people hold
legitimate concerns that need to be addressed by the government yet are seemingly
ignored. These people are almost not considered to be actual people, as they do not
receive proper care and respect by the government through addressing the root of their

X.) Conclusion
The question remains whether or not Oplan Tokhang can be considered an effective
answer to the drug problem in the Philippines; this policy by the Duterte administration
put to death thousands of people due to alleged addiction and alleged affiliations to the
illicit drug trade. It has already been proven that incarceration for drug offenses are
catalysts for the destruction of an afflicted individual’s lifestyle and overall path in life; if
prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders are proven to be unacceptable solutions,

what more could we take from actually resorting to murdering addicts as part of a social

Oplan Tokhang does not take into consideration the factors that can make a person more
susceptible to addiction and treats the brain sickness as some sort of a sin, a criminal
offense deserving of violent death; it does not acknowledge the influence of widespread
poverty in the Philippines as a cause for addiction. The government should first take the
necessary steps to address the issues rooted with the system that further worsens the
situation of income inequality in the country; the advent of national industrialization and
genuine agrarian reform must take priority to lift the economical disparage. Addressing
the problems with poverty is an effective prevention method to alleviate the drug
problem; the government should be championing economical reforms that benefit the
majority, not enact polices that further widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

As a final assessment, Oplan Tokhang as a measure to counter the growing drug problem
in the Philippines is a complete and utter failure. This grave mistake stemmed from the
lack of understanding of the drug problem’s complexity and the narrow-minded
perception of the government to the variables that are involved with drug addiction. It is a
completely haphazard method that led to the deaths of thousands of predominantly poor
citizens without showing actual results in alleviating the dilemma. It has already been
proven that the “War on Drugs” model patented by Richard Nixon of the United States in
1971 does not work and will never work; it is an impossibility to win a war on
eradicating drug supply as illicit drugs will always be manufactured at a higher quality
and faster rate. Duterte’s version of this drug war is not only less effective but more
prone to human rights violations and generally spreading human misery all over the

Drug addicts should never be treated as criminals unless they participate in violent acts;
these individuals should instead be perceived as patients in need of proper medical
treatment; effective rehabilitation methods always be put in the forefront of any policy
that concerns the problem with illicit drugs. Addiction is a brain illness that arises from
genetic and environmental factors and should be treated as such; capital punishment
should never be an option to address this dilemma, even more so the type of death that is
administered through illegal means.

XI.) Visual Communication Recommendation

The proposed output for this research is the use of a comic/visual novel that depicts the
narrative of the poor as marginalized sectors of Philippine society; the primary supporters
of Oplan Tokhang and the Duterte administration are the uninformed and apathetic
members of the middle to upper classes, which makes a visual interpretation more
effective. The intended goal is to elicit empathy and comprehension from the normally
apathetic perception of the general public to the poor through sympathetic
characterization in a visual narrative; the use of a realistic and grounded story through
visual panels is an optimal teaching tool that further educates the masses about the truths
behind drug addiction, the drug war and the general state of the Philippines at large.

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