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Is religion – the opium of the masses – the most dangerous drug in the Philippines?

The war on drugs have brought some unwelcome publicity to the Philippines

“It’s more fun in the Philippines”, or at least that’s what the tourism slogan used to be, until a few months ago when the Ministry of Tourism decided to change it (and then didn’t).

The reason for the proposed change was that the Philippines had changed, which it has. What they didn’t mention was that seeing men, women and children getting gunned down in the street isn’t all that fun.

Now while the extrajudicial killings have (for the time being) decreased, the rhetoric has not, and if you listen to Duterte, or almost any Filipino (he still has sky-high approval ratings), the problem of the country is drugs.

That’s it, the one problem, drugs. Get rid of drug dealers and suddenly the Philippines will become Singapore.

Except it won’t, because the Philippines doesn’t primarily have a drug problem — its primary problem is poverty, and from this stems all the other problems including prostitution, child abuse, people trafficking and, yes, drugs.

And where does the poverty come from? Leaving aside the fact that the Philippines is an oligarchy controlled by a few families, with the poor living in virtual servitude, lets look at something much more damaging, and more potent than any drug, and that is the all-powerful Catholic Church.

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The Philippines has far and wide the biggest population of single mothers in Asia and unsurprisingly, across the world, the nations that tend to have the most single-parent families are other Catholic countries in the Americas.

Filipinos do not get sex education at school, if they’re lucky they get it from their parents. But the chances are, they learn ‘on the job’, with the net result being sexually clueless children getting knocked up by jobless men/children, leaving grandparents to look after the kids while the young mum has to find a job. The only problem is there aren’t any jobs, except for prostitution, or being an oversea worker (OFW).

So prostitution, much like drug dealing, tends not to be a job of choice, but poverty breeds necessity. And so hordes of girls flock to places like Angeles City, thus fuelling the sex trade and sex tourism. Now, fun fact kids! Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, so that means the girls don’t have employment rights, access to healthcare, nor even condoms.

Actually some workers do get these, but it is from their places of employment rather than the state. Legislation has been discussed many times, but (you guessed it) the Catholic mafia has stood against it every step of the way, with their traditional mantra that if you close your eyes problems go away.

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Until the Philippines understands that the Catholic Church is the root of most of their problems it’s unlikely the country will improve.

The other option of being an OFW again could warrant its own article, and while many OFW engagements go well, the amount of women that end up trafficked, working in slave-like conditions, abused or dead is scary.

And now onto the “drug problem”. Shabu, an amphetamine style drug, is the main one that is allegedly causing all the problems in the country, analogous to crack or heroin in the west.

The problem is that shabu is a poor man’s drug — the rich continue to use recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy — but shabu, like crack or heroin, is an escapist drug. Again, like with the prostitutes, no one turns up at careers day and says they want to be a drug addict or dealer. It is poverty and hopelessness that leads people to drug addiction, and it is the lack of opportunity that leads addicts to sell drugs to others, while those higher up the chain get rich.

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So Duterte has decided that drug pushers and users are vermin, and like vermin should be exterminated. Kill the problem and it goes away, which sounds great except these are not rats but people.

Murdering working age men and fathers will leave even more single mothers, which will fuel the sex trade, emigration and poverty. Duterte and Catholic Church might talk like enemies, but in many cases, whether they mean to or not, they work hand in glove to spread poverty.

Filipinos do not like anyone saying anything bad against their country, and nobody wants to admit when their country is going to shit — crab mentality dictates that it’s not your fault, it’s someone else’s.

So when Duterte rode in on his white horse declaring “drugs are the problem”, the people jumped all over it. Just as Hitler had the Jews to blame, pointing the finger at an enemy within while the rich continue to get richer isn’t something new — it’s fascism 101.

A continued campaign of murder will not improve the country, but make the poverty problem much, much worse. I hope in five years I am proved wrong, but I fear history will not absolve President Duterte, and the ever-suffering poor of the Philippines will continue to seek an escape from their misery.

6 Comments on "Is religion – the opium of the masses – the most dangerous drug in the Philippines?"

  1. Your writers & I have in common our opposition to Duterte’s lunatic mass murder policies, as well as us all not being fans of Catholicism, which is a mixture of paganism & Christianity.

    “Religion is the opium of the people” is a better translation of the quote by the thoroughly discredited Karl Marx. When an article is founded on a quote from someone so well-refuted in so many ways, it’s no surprise that there are other problems in the piece. However, I don’t want to get into your contradictions or punctuation mistakes. I just want to point out that true Christianity is a cure, not an opium.

    If you can manage to look beyond impostors such as Appalling Cult-Boy (AKA Apollo Quiboloy), the Manalo cult, & Catholicism, you’ll see the amazing good that is being done by Christians in all of the dark realms you complained about (poverty, sex crimes, drug abuse, & education). Many evangelical & Protestant groups — from within & from outside of the Philippines — are lifting multitudes out of hopelessness.

    I’m not saying that one can’t be a true Christian while being a Catholic. I’m just saying that the institution is corrupted, & true Christians would be far better off joining other groups. “Come out of her, my people.” (Revelation 18:4)

  2. John Doe | May 9, 2017 at 7:19 pm |

    Blaming it all on just the Church is oversimplification. Both the Church and Government have a long, long, long history of getting a free ride on the backs of the peasants and merchants.

    Money is not wealth, it is merely a medium of exchange. Wealth is the things you own. Wealth can only be produced through a blending of management, capital, and labor. Government and Church drain capital out of the economy, leaving not enough for management and labor to produce at full capacity. So it’s the corruption in Government and Church which is to blame for poverty. Government and church love your money, and it’s their love of money which is the root of all evil. They both consume wealth while contributing nothing to the economy.

  3. Robert Walker | May 10, 2017 at 10:32 am |

    Certainly the belief that if you pray hard enough God will somehow solve your problems it’s not a good one for individual action that produces results. However there’s nothing in this article that backs up the argument that the Catholic Church is the root of peoples problems in the Philippines

    • What about the birth control issue? The population has tripled in just 50 years. Imagine if the Philippines had enjoyed “normal” population growth in that time. A population of, I guess, 50-60 million?

  4. The Artful Dodger | May 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm |

    The fact that countless other countries have tried and failed to eradicate the drug problems (you cannot do it by removing the users or suppliers, as more will spring up in their place), what made Duterte think he could do it. Did he look at models of other countries and see how they are tackling the problem, or come up with plans other than murder? No. ‘Tell the people what they want to hear’ was his ticket. ‘I will remove them all’ (mass cheers as an ignorant electorate voted ‘yeah, we want you!!!) As for the Catholic church. Not worth comment!

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