Beyond the consequence

We lost one of our own last May in a tragedy that claimed the lives of several other attendees of the Closeup Forever Summer concert. The Lasallian community mourned her passing in a mass sponsored by the University in Parañaque last May 25, and as the healing continues, so do the investigations.

Bianca’s death, along with those of several others, moves the long debate about just how exactly drugs and drug abuse should be dealt with by national and global governments front and center in public discussion, all the while bringing to light several questions on the way our society treats drug abuse and addiction in the country and views those who’ve fallen.

With around one-fifth of all barangays in the country affected by drug-related cases as of February 2015, it makes sense that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s platform of peace and order, with particular focus on the country’s alarming drug problem, gained so much traction in Philippine society. Metro Manila bears the brunt of this problem, as 92 percent of barangays in the national capital region experience drug-related cases.

Globally, governments have taken heavy tolls — in money, time, and people — on the so-called war on drugs. This problem is recognized even by the UN Office on on Drugs and Crimes, which in 1998 had aimed to achieve a drug-free world by 2008. It explains in its analysis notes that the efforts in the past two decades to control drugs, which have largely vilified drug use and called on conservative cultural backlash supported by criminal justice systems across the globe, only achieved the complete opposite of their intended purpose. The notes point to “a criminal black market of staggering proportions,” as the chief result of the global fight against drugs, a problem that threatens to destabilize entire economies and bribe government officials.

Despite growing international criticism on the existing UN prohibitionist policies on drug use, the United Nations general assembly held in New York last April, maintains much of the status quo in the criminalization of drug use.


Perhaps it is time to reevaluate how we as a society view and treat the drug problem in the country. Perhaps it’s time to rethink how illegal drugs have affected and shaped the society we live in, and examine how our attitudes towards it have affected and shaped the way we treat others.

And while the University administration does everything it can to prevent similar occurrences in school-sanctioned events — including, but not limited to, mandatory drug tests and considering a change in U Break — it is important that we recognize the multifaceted nature of the drug problem not just in the Philippines, but also for the rest of the world. It is easy to say that people who died of overdose had made their choice, had made a mistake and had suffered the consequence. But it makes a world of difference, and is ultimately more important, to examine our own roles in a society that allows such a culture to thrive while ignoring the plight of many who suffer from a health problem we keep insisting is solely a criminal one.

The LaSallian

By The LaSallian

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