Duterte's "war on drugs" is proof the Philippines is not a functioning country!

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of drug users/pushers etc are not being summarily shot. The streets are not littered with corpses. There are no packs of feral policemen picking off drug addicts. I hear no gunshots at night, even though there are plenty of drug addicts wandering around my neighbourhood. I'm here on the ground, and whatever the newspapers are saying is clearly nonsense.

As for those 700 who have (apparently) been executed, what of it? There are 8000 documented murders every year. You and I both know that most murders aren't even investigated here, so the true figure is probably in the tens of thousands. Most of them would have been ordinary people who upset the local criminal clans.

And we're worried about 700 drug dealers?

Thing is, the Philippines is not even close to being a functioning country. I've spent all my life living in civilized places, and when I came to the Philippines I quickly learned that what makes sense in those countries makes no sense here.

To take a simple, everyday example, I tend to trust people first, and assume that they will treat me with respect if I show them respect. This works so well in Europe or the US (and much of Asia) that we consider it normal, common-sense behaviour.

Not in the Philippines. In any social interaction here, you DO NOT assume that, the other person sees you as a fellow human being, or that he is interested in some mutually-beneficial outcome. You do not trust ANYBODY unless they show some positive proof that they are trustworthy, and even then you watch your back because they're probably just stringing you along until they can stab you in the back.

So when you get earnest reporters blathering about 37% of Filipinos going to church, and are therefore good, honest people, you want to scream. If churchgoing were a metric for social probity, the country wouldn't have a murder rate five times higher than Europe.

My option for "fixing" the Philippines's problems would be to send in a million disciplined, well-trained soldiers from European countries and have them performing police duty here until the criminals are off the streets. That simply isn't going to happen. Sadly, then, we're stuck with incompetent, ill-trained, and ill-funded Filipinos performing that duty. A long way from ideal, but better than the status quo.

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