Scary redefined: Living in the time of the War on Drugs | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

One very late evening I saw a dead man beside the gutter of an empty lot in the subdivision I’ve lived in for most of my life. Partially veiled by shadows, the body was hunched on the ground so you couldn’t see its face, or if it had a cardboard sign that reads “PUSHER AKO. WAG TULARAN.”


If it isn’t what I think it is… is it even okay to say it’s good that it isn’t what I think it is? But if it is, then I guess the War on Drugs has reached my subdivision and that that dead man would be the nth addition to The Kill List.




I was driving home and the perimeter was swarmed by police and their vehicles. They were on a street that, after school hours, would be filled with children waiting for tricycles to take them home.


A commuter shed stands on a corner but the kids would mill about on the street anyway. There are a few roadside vendors, including a fruit stand and one that sells halo-halo. Perhaps the owners, whose stalls don’t seem to have budged at all since the incident, remain clueless about the cadaver we saw curled beside their puwesto.


Working class


A 5-minute drive from that same street is a Catholic shrine. A 5-minute walk takes you to my preschool, now run by the daughter of my teacher.


From there, walk a couple minutes more and you’ll reach my house, which is in a gated working-class community within a gated working-class community—all part of a network of gated communities, some of which are a bit more posh and exclusive than others.


These are quiet neighborhoods not because the inhabitants are the quiet, gentle types, but because they generally prefer to keep to themselves.


When you have to go past the tollgate every single day to and from work, and work is in congested, frenetic business districts, the peace and solitude offered by gated communities is a gift.


But now I’ve lost the feeling that my life can be compartmentalized, that I can go home for security and need not worry about the elements that lurk in the dark.


Law enforcement, which employs staff paid for by the taxes of people it’s bound to protect, has become a stable for vigilantes. How are we to trust these men in uniform who unapologetically bully, coerce and shoot their fellowmen?


Any of us can now be suspected of that most heinous of crimes and end up by the roadside, bound and gagged by cardboard justice.


3 million


A dead body was dumped near my house. The image of that man—who, for all we know, could’ve been a distant neighbor or a resident in the area—will haunt me for a long time, all because this administration encourages ridding society of (suspected) drug pushers no matter the cost.


Collateral damage, that’s how children killed from this drug war have been labeled. They could have grown to become exemplary citizens of this country.


Victims of extrajudicial killings who turned out to be innocent, they’re all collateral damage. Why were they not allowed to turn over a new leaf, if indeed they have erred? People can change for the better, and many times it can be a truly inspiring renaissance.


Instead we have dead Filipinos, the real cost of the War on Drugs. There will be about three million more, we were told.


What of rapists and pedophiles? How about perpetrators of human trafficking? Or politicians who allow the exploitation of Filipinos and our country as well as repeatedly steal money from our nation’s coffers?


I dare this administration to prosecute those people and their ilk. I dare this administration to rid us of their evils.


Until it’s done, all we’ll ever have is just a false sense of security.