Thailand’s ongoing attempt to stamp out the use and sale of narcotics is proof that the illegal drug menace couldn’t be eradicated in a span of six years, unlike what President Rodrigo Duterte has envisioned, socioeconomic planning secretary Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod said.
In her Philippine Daily Inquirer column published Jan. 7, Monsod pointed out certain similarities between Thailand’s war against drugs with Duterte’s to show why an iron fisted approach to eradicating the narcotics trade is bound to fail.
“The first war on drugs was started in 2003 by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, at the behest of the King (the late Bhumibol Adulyadej). Thaksin said he would do it in three months, and then extended the time frame to eight months, but then was waging it all the way until he abruptly left office. Does that sound familiar?” she asked.
At the start of the campaign, the University of the Philippines School of Economics professor emeritus noted that 90 percent of Thais supported Thaksin’s war against drugs, which left 2,800 people dead in the first three months.
Of the number of casualties, Monsod said over half were found to have no links to the drug trade while authorities claimed they were killed in self-defense.
“Sound familiar?” she asked.
After two years and thousands of dead bodies, Monsod said 74 percent of Thais still remained supportive of Thaksin’s war against drugs although 68 percent “did not think it would be successful.”
While the then-Thai Prime Minister claimed success, the King didn’t and called for a probe on drug-related deaths for possible human rights violations.
Thirteen years after Thaksin declared war against drugs, Monsod said the problem has yet to be solved in Thailand, with a senior member of the junta expressing his “hopelessness” about the problem in the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session on the World Drug problem in 2016.
From two methamphetamine laboratories between 2008 to 2010, the UN office on Drugs and Crime Data found that the number has increased to 193 from 2011 to 2012.
Going back to the Philippines, Monsod warned of the long-term negative consequences Duterte’s war on drugs will cause.
“Even if we achieve “success” (rather doubtful), there will still be negative long-term impacts: the return, or at least the reinforcement, of the culture of impunity, particularly in the police force, and, relatedly, the isolation of the police and military from the people, with the latter’s growing suspicion and resentment of the former,” she said.