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How Duterte’s drug war can fail

September 28, 2016 ·  By Camille Diola for newslab.philstar.com

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A global policy shift is underway after the war on drugs that dragged on for decades saw no success. In the Philippines, the same war is just beginning and despite popular support, may be doomed to the same fate.

Over the past months, a country of 100 million watches President Rodrigo Duterte try applying nationally a formula his supporters find to have worked in Davao City, long hailed a haven to honest citizens and a hell to crooks. There, as mayor for 22 years, his iron-fist approach restored security amid vigilante killings and set up social services unusual in the underdeveloped south.

On the campaign trail, Duterte vowed an end to crime and illegal drugs within his first year as president. To do this, he chose to suppress the drug trade through an aggressive, even violent, crackdown on the market. An all-out war.

John Collins, executive director of London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy Project, said the Philippines has declared a war “identical” to those launched in the United States and parts of Latin America and Asia in the past decades. The campaigns led to arrests and deaths but did little to hold back the stream of substances.

“The policies pursued, in this case prohibition and repression, don’t succeed in reducing the size of the market and in many cases inflame the violence and corruption associated with the market,” Collins told Philstar.com in an email.

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