Improving the quality of life of the people is the better option than violence.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – An urban poor group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider its violent approach to end the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially in urban poor communities, by addressing the root causes of their impoverished conditions.
In a statement, Kadamay said the proliferation of illegal drugs in urban poor communities is “symptomatic of the extreme poverty levels being experienced by the people, and as such, improving their quality of life is the better option than violence.”
“Can the president conclusively say that violence and police operations are better solutions to the drug problem than raising the standards of living? With jobs, education and health services, most Filipinos will not need to turn to drugs or at the very least be able to afford the currently high cost of rehabilitation in the country,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said.
Nearly a thousand has been killed in the name of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. Rights groups and church workers have assailed that those killed, for supposedly resisting arrest, belong to poor families.
This week, an audio recording of a police operation in Pasay City surfaced in which pedicab driver Eric Sison amid police pursuit, was heard pleading “Ito po! Ito po! Susuko na ako” (Here I am! I will surrender) followed by a series of gunshots.
The police said they are already conducting an investigation. In a television interview, one police officer claimed that voice heard in the audio recording was not that of the pedicab driver but of a police officer. But the pedicab driver’s family and neighbors described the shooting as “overkill.”
Children most vulnerable in drug campaign
The youngest casualty of the illegal drug campaign, as described in news reports, is five-year-old Danica May, a granddaughter of tricycle driver Maximo Garcia in Mayombo village, Pangasinan who surrendered to the police after learning he was listed in its drug watch.
News reports said the Garcia family was having lunch on Aug. 23 when a man opened fired at their house, killing the child and wounding Garcia in the stomach. Garcia, 53, is recuperating in a hospital.
Children rights group Salinlahi assailed Danica May’s killing, saying that children belonging to families without decent livelihood in urban poor communities are exposed to such violence.
Salinlahi secretary general Kharlo Manano said, “We are one with the Duterte administration’s intention to eliminate illegal drugs in the country, but we should always consider the social context of poor children and their families. If the killings do not stop, more and more children will be caught in the middle of this bloody war.”