November 24, 2017, 5:18 pm
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Contradicting Duterte

DIONISIO Santiago was removed by President Duterte as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) for assailing the 25,000-bed drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija. The former AFP chief seemed more familiar with the extent of the drug problem than Duterte.

 Duterte continues to virtually ignore the more humane community-based approach which has been advocated by numerous medical and psychological experts here and abroad. Notably, the officials of the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated that “it is troubling that treatment remains compulsory in many Asean countries, but evidence shows that coercion does little to help a patient recover.” Indeed the extremely difficult task of rehabilitation calls for extraordinary measures separate from the violence and repression that this government conveniently wields against its own people. Only a therapeutic treatment built on mutual trust and confidentiality between patient and doctor seems the only way to confront the otherwise evil forces that enslave an addict and pusher. Of course, the police, the courts and the local government officials do not see it this way. Santiago must have felt that with the thousands of drug “suspects” already killed in the relentless drug war, the government has had no intention of putting the huge Nueva Ecija rehab to good use. The funerals and cemeteries have turned out to be more productive abode for the “drug victims”. Dealing with the deeper and sociological problems to provide restoration through a family and social approach contradicts Duterte’s thinking. Santiago has long regarded them as victims and not as objects of mercilessly-violent police operations. His forced exit points to a a tragic flaw in the Duterte character that has resisted advise that contradicts his personal beliefs and biases.

The axed DDB chair Benjamin Reyes came forth with official findings based on extensive research and intelligence that the number was 1.8 million drug addicts and not 4 million as Duterte attested. DOH Secretary Francisco Duque seemed to validate Santiago’s claim saying that the large drug rehab centers should probably be reconfigured to provide better services for the more difficult drug cases. Until now, Duterte has not disclosed if much of the statistics had been validated at all by public and private agencies concerned. It seemed logical for him to brandish the huge number of drug suspects to justify the extension of the bloody drug war and pave the way for authoritarian rule. Still, the rampage still continues in the streets of Metro Manila carried out by criminals on motorbikes with no sign or effort from the PNP to intervene. This should be an opportune time at the upcoming Asean Summit this month for member countries to closely examine their anti-drug policies and whether or not they have led to repression and rampant violence and thus reneged in the universal standards for human rights and legal due process.

Parents of law students at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) should now have serious second thoughts in allowing their sons and daughters to stay in its law school. Certainly, most of them had hit the roof over the testimonies of Aegis Juris fratmen involved in the fatal hazing of neophyte Atio Castillo III. The suspects argued against the police findings, forensic and physical evidence that showed that the victim was brutalized and killed - which was clear as day - to advance the amazing and ludicrous claim that Castillo had instead succumbed to a heart attack caused some allegedly undisclosed ailment. Only one Aegis fratman could not fight his conscience and has appeared before a Senate committee hearing to testify against his brods.
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