Thursday, May 30, 2019

[Presentation] 13th ISSDP Conference, Paris - The impacts of drug testing in Philippine schools

On May 24, 2019, as part of the 13th Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) in Paris, France, I presented a paper entitled "The impacts of drug testing in Philippine schools". A policy analysis informed by key informant interviews, government documents, and public discourse, I highlighted the harms of this policy - to the students, to the schools, and to society at large. 

I concluded my presentation with three major points:

- Random drug testing (RDT) poses a risk for students, requires financial and human resources  from the school system, and perpetuates the idea that society must be ‘drug-free’

- RDT in Philippine schools has persisted over the past two decades because of its largely uncritical acceptance by government agencies, as well as the social and political efficacies of supporting (or acquiescing) to it.

- Beyond the killings, we need to look at other policies whose harms are more insidious - as these are ones that are more likely to persist 

This is a topic that deserves further exploration (and documentation). For more of my thoughts about it, please see a column that I wrote in January.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

[Presentation] Columbia University, New York - Interrogating the Philippine 'Drug War'

On April 22-23, 2019, I joined a conference at the Columbia Journalism School in New York City entitled "Violence and Policing in the Philippines, Latin America, and the U.S.", where I presented some insights from historical and ethnographic studies of drugs in the Philippines.

As in previous presentations, I reiterated three main points: First, that Duterte is best seen as a continuation or escalation - not an exception - to Philippine drug policy: one that views drugs as ‘evil’ and sanctions punitive measures; second, the ethnographic picture shows that drugs are ‘useful’ in the everyday lives of young people and therefore any response must consider their socio-economic situations. 

Finally, drawing on my own research, I highlighted how anxiety and fear characterize young people’s outlooks: they view law enforcement as unfair, corrupt, and hypocritical. 

The conference offered various perspectives from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, US - as well as various voices from the Philippines. Hopefully, a kind of engagement that finds value in Philippines-Latin America comparisons and collaborations will continue. And so will the work that documents and challenges the violent drug policies in the Philippines as well as the conditions that enable them.