After more than two years of work, Abbey Pangilinan, Nastassja Quijano and I are releasing a first paper on the early effects of the so-called Philippine Drug War on conditional cash transfer beneficiaries in Metro Manila from 2015-2016. The full preprint is available for download here, with coverage available from the Southern China Morning Post, The Asean Post, and Rappler. Many of these threads appear in the hip-hop album Kolateral, but there are certain things that even the best works of art cannot completely convey.
There are so many things that I wish we could have done methodologically given constraints on time, resources, and data access. Realistically only the Department of Social Welfare and Development and its development partners will have the ability to do a full-scale review across all regions–which I hope they will do, as a first step towards designing support interventions for the families left behind.
Is the Philippine War on Drugs truly a ‘War on the Poor’? Focusing on beneficiaries of the Philippine conditional cash transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, we examine the effects of anti-illegal drug operations on poor families in Metro Manila from April 2016 to December 2017. From field validation and interviews with families affected by drug-related killings (DRKs), we find that at least 333 victims out of 1,827 identifiable DRK cases in Metro Manila from June 2016 to December 2017 were CCT beneficiaries. This is equivalent to anywhere from 1,365 to 1,865 affected household members, including at least two children per family. At least 12 cases involved multiple killings within the same family. These are extremely conservative figures since field validation did not saturate all cities in Metro Manila and does not include deaths after December 2017 or other poor families that are not covered by the CCT. The findings illustrate that drug-related killings negatively affect CCT beneficiaries and their families. Most victims were breadwinners, leading to a decrease in household income. The reduced available income, as well as the social stigma of having a drug-related death in the family, causes children covered by the CCT to drop out of school. Widowed parents often find new partners, leaving the children with aging paternal grandmothers. Drug-related killings are often bookended by other hazards such as flooding, fires, and home demolitions. The direct effects of these killings, compounded with disasters and other socioeconomic shocks, traumatizes CCT families, erodes social cohesion, and pushes them further into poverty. We conclude with recommendations for the design of support packages to mitigate untoward effects on families, children, the elderly, as well as single parent households.
EDIT: Popular coverage of the research project can be found here:
- Southern China Morning Post – “As Duterte’s drugs war rages on in the Philippines, nation’s children are paying the price”
- The Asean Post – “Who are Duterte’s real victims?”
- Rappler.com – “How Duterte’s drug war is negating key anti-poverty programs”
- Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism – “Between Two Wars” [an illustrated piece supported by the PCIJ Story Project]