Leni’s war on poverty and why it will fail miserably

As millions of Filipinos are beginning to see the positive results of President Duterte’s war on drugs, the face of opposition, Vice President Leni Robredo, is scrambling to counter the administration’s looming success by declaring war on poverty as the root cause of “drugs and criminality”.

“Drugs and criminality are rooted in poverty. We should improve the life of the poor, not think they are beyond redemption,” Leni said on a recent speech subtly attacking the President who is falsely accused of extra-judicial killings committed by policemen involved in drug trade and the drug cartel.

The problem lies in the what the VP sees as the root of illegal drug use and criminality. While Leni argues that its root cause is poverty, wide swaths of scientific research disagrees. According to science, the root cause of illegal drug use, which then results to criminality, is an illness called addiction. The DSM-5 — the handbook for diagnosis of mental disorders used by nearly all health care professionals — has an entire section devoted to addiction disorders.

In fact, poverty is only a by-product of drug addiction, not the root cause. If you improve the lives of the Filipino people without proper treatment, the problem will only worsen. This is the reason why it will fail miserably: the VP is attacking the wrong enemy.

While VP Robredo travels around to deliver speeches about her plan and the new target enemy, President Duterte has already inaugurated a mega rehab center for people with drug addiction; fulfilling his promise to help those who desire treatment. The President is praised by health care professionals for addressing the problem correctly and swiftly. The construction of the 10,000 in-patient rehab center began in August. Four months later, it was done.

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