Years after the campaign against illegal drugs was launched, what has now transpired?
The campaign against illegal drugs can be traced from the promise by President Duterte to rid the country of drug addicts in order to save the future generation. Almost immediately, his word became law. A day after he took his oath as the 16th president of the Philippines, Command Memorandum Circular 2016-16, more popularly known as Oplan Tokhang, was launched. The rest, as we know it, is history – a bloody campaign against illegal drugs began and thousands of drug personalities, mostly from the poor, were killed. Until now, the killings still exist, and only a few have been held accountable. With each victim killed, there is an individual, a family, a community, and a society traumatized and affected.
While there are organizations, including the media, human rights organizations, government agencies, including the police, that document the numbers and cases of those who have died as a result of the campaign against illegal drugs, there is also the need to know where victims can seek relief and justice. Who is doing what? Which organization is providing the necessary support that victims need?
Human rights organizations, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the church, among others, have been in the forefront of providing immediate support and services for victims and their families. However, these organizations have their limitations as well, whether it be due to their mandate, resources, or capabilities. Not one organization or government agency can address all the needs of every individual, family and community affected by the campaign against illegal drugs.