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COMMENTARY: Drug addiction: Health and Human Rights Dimension

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 July) — Drug addiction is an epidemic. It is public health issue and should be addressed accordingly. Drug addicts are not criminals. They are sick, and in fact there are vulnerabilities. There may be biological vulnerabilities. Those with learning disorders are vulnerable. The most serious vulnerability is poverty. It is easy to blame the addicts but the truth is, it is the social context of these people that is immoral in the first place. I also see gender as a vulnerability. Most of the cases I saw among women in conflict with the law were related to drug trade.

For decades, the Philippine approach smacked of hypocrisy. They went after the addicts and the small time dealers. This did not address the issue. Now the state is going after the big fishes and the latter should face the consequence. They should be punished. It is not important that these drug lords are charitable…narco-philantropy is still unacceptable because they have wreaked havoc on the lives of many people.

Drug addiction, like any other health problems like high maternal moratlity rates, increased prevalence of HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis need holistic solutions and entails a major change in the social, economic, political and cultural structures of the society.

There is a clamor for respect for human rights. Yes to this because, we, social activists have been pressing for this for decades. Human rights violation took heavy toll mostly on leftist activists.

Again, this should be done not to single out a specific individual but to hold all those accountable not only on drug-related activities. Engaged citizens should work towards pressing for the punishment of those accountable not only for drug-related deaths but also for the deaths of political activists.

Ensuring human rights is state responsibility, therefore, all the actions taken to go after drug addicts, small time dealers and drug lords should still be within the Rule of Law.

One thing we should also try to investigate…the relationship between neoliberalism and human rights. This system always correlates with human rights violation. And the saddest thing is, we cannot punish the system, only the individuals. Another sad thing is the pushers of this system are the corporate crooks in partnership with the ruling local elites who always get away with the crime.

I am happy that we have started going after the key players of corruption.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Dr. Jean Lindo is a faculty member of the Community Medicine Department of the Davao Medical School Foundation in Davao City)


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