Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 18 July 2017

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Know Your Rights in Case of ICE Arrest

By Atty. Lou Tancinco

At the recently concluded American Immigration Lawyers Association conference held at New Orleans, representatives from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicated the lack of detention centers and beds. It was mentioned several times, that Trump’s policy on interior enforcement is being executed and they expect increase in apprehension.
If a non-U.S. citizen who is without legal status is arrested by ICE agent, what steps may be taken? What rights if any do they have at the time of arrest?
Below are the “Know Your Rights” information being disseminated by Immigration Legal Resource Center and certain non-profit organizations, which may be asserted if the inescapable ICE visit or arrest takes place.

You have the right to remain silent.
You can assert your fifth amendment right. You can refuse to speak to an ICE agent. Do not answer any questions, especially about your birth place, immigration status or how you entered the United States. Say that you want to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer.

You have the right to demand a warrant before letting anyone into your home.
The ICE agent may not enter your home without a warrant. You do not have to give permission for him to enter. It is okay not to open your door unless the agent shows you the warrant. If the warrant is presented to you, ask the agent to slip it under the door or through the window. Make sure it is signed by a judge with your correct name, address and date of birth.

You have the right to speak to a lawyer and the right to make a phone call.
It is important to have your attorney’s phone number handy. You will be entitled to make a phone call. If you do not know your attorney’s number, call a trusted friend or relative to coordinate with your attorney.

You have the right to refuse to sign anything before you talk to a lawyer.
There will be some documents that will be presented to you for signing after you are apprehended and taken into custody. Do not sign anything. If you sign without understanding the nature of the document, it is possible that you are signing a waiver of your rights to a lawyer or to a hearing. And if you waive these rights, it may result in your immediate removal without a hearing.

You have the right to refuse to show any documents before speaking with a lawyer.
When you are visited by an ICE agent, you do not have to give permission to search any of your belongings unless there is a warrant. You can ask to speak with a lawyer before you submit any documentation. Each case of an unauthorized individual is distinct and all non-U.S. citizens must be vigilant about their rights. During these challenging times, a legal advice from a professional immigration attorney becomes indispensable to figure out what legal options may still be available.


$20,000 reward for FilAm's wife's murder

By Lydia V. Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California

MONTEREY PARK, CA – Homicide Capt. Christopher Bergner announced a $20,000 reward on July 11, during an emotional press conference at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. here to influence the public to come forward with information about a suspect who shot and killed motel employee Michelle Chen, 45, during a robbery at the Ambassador Inn in the 2700 block of West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, CA. The crime happened before 11 p.m., half hour before Michelle's shift ended on June 2. She had lived in Alhambra for 16 years and was married to Armando Escandor for 25. They have two children: 21-year-old Armando Jr. and Analisa, 12.
“Homicide bureau investigators are working diligently to solve the murder of Michelle Chen,” Capt. Bergner stated. “She was a steadfast member of the Alhambra community, a treasured wife and beloved mother of two. We ask the public for their assistance to help bring the suspect to justice, for her sake and to offer some sense of peace to her family.”IMAG1070
Lt. Joe Mendoza explained the details of the crime. “On the night of the murder, Miss Chen, who was affectionately known as Michelle, was working the night shift at an Alhambra motel where she had worked for the past six years. The suspect entered the lobby and pointed a handgun on Michelle. He demanded money, reached over the counter and shot her as she stood behind the counter. Michelle was fatally wounded.” Lt. Mendoza added that “she was a wife and mother, who enjoyed cooking, attending church, and spending time with her family.”
The masked suspect, described as a male adult, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall with medium build, fled the location on foot while Michelle lay on the floor dying, shot in the abdomen, and later pronounced dead at the scene. Nothing was taken, according to Lt. Mendoza. The gunman was reportedly wearing a dark hooded sweater and a dark-colored glove.
When asked to speak before the media, Armando Escandor tearfully uttered, “All I want is justice for my loving wife…” but he was overcome with emotion and couldn’t continue. “I want my son to talk about it.”
Armando Jr. narrated that his parents met in 1991, in Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, and got married in 1994. He was born in 1995.
When asked why he loves his mother, Junior expressed: “Because she was my perfect mother; positivity in her life was infectious. She was always known as a very loving person, caring and empathetic, and never failed to leave a lasting impression on any person she had met including guests at her hotel. She would go out of her way even if it was not within her work description. We’re going to miss our mother because she never stopped smiling. Please help us catch the man. All I want to tell this man though is: Why did you have to go too far, so far as to take an amazing woman from this world and from the lives of our family?” His sister Analisa added: “I would like justice for my mother because I barely got any time to spend with her so I want justice for my mom.”
Also present during the press conference was Assistant Chief Elliot Kase from the Alhambra Police Department. “Alhambra City Leaders, the Alhambra Police Department, and our community,” he announced, “are saddened by this unprovoked act of violence against a defenseless victim. The City of Alhambra has committed a $10,000 reward for the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the suspect. We are confident that justice will ultimately prevail and bring some level of closure to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones.”
To incentivize witnesses to step forward, the City of Alhambra Mayor David Mejia, presented a $10,000 reward offer, for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Michelle Chen. In an act of humanitarianism and concern for the family, a $10,000 reward was also offered by Escandor’s employer, Primetime Shuttle.
A chilling video surveillance of the incident captured footage of the suspect as he was committing the robbery, confronting Michelle, asking “Do you want to die?” then shooting her and making his escape. The incident lasted only about 45 seconds, according to Lt. Mendoza. Detectives are seeking to identify the suspect in the video footage and gave media members video discs as well as pictures of the victim.
If anyone has information about the fatal shooting of Michelle Chen, please call Homicide Bureau Detectives Gary Sloan or Brandt House at (323) 890-5500; or anonymously at (800) 222-8477; or online at and son


Are PPI pills safe?

Are PPI pills safe?

Gastro-Eophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is very common worldwide. Here are some prevalence estimates: “18.1%-27.8% in North America, 8.8%-25.9% in Europe, 2.5%-7.8% in East Asia, 8.7%-33.1% in the Middle East, 11.6% in Australia and 23.0% in South America. Incidence per 1000 person-years was approximately 5 in the overall UK and US populations, and 0.84 in pediatric patients aged 1-17 years in the UK. Evidence suggests an increase in GERD prevalence since 1995 (p<0.0001), particularly in North America and East Asia.” In the Philippines, GERD had significantly increases in 2000-2003 compared to 1994-1997.

The current standard of care includes the use of Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) medications, which blocks the acid production in the stomach which reduces heartburns and corrosive esophagitis (inflammation and scarring of the lower food pipe at its connection to the stomach. PPI drugs are marketed as esomeprazole, pantoprazole, omeprazole, lansoprzole and reberprazole.

A study published in the British Medical Journal Open suggests that PPI increased general mortality rate. Researchers evaluated data from the US Department of veterans Affairs among new and nonusers of acid suppression treatment. The study did not include non-PPI anti-acid drugs.
Their findings revealed that “during a median 6 years' follow-up, use of PPIs was associated with increased risk for death, relative to use of H2 blockers (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.25). Risk was also increased among patients taking PPIs, compared with those not taking acid suppression therapy, and among those taking PPIs who did not have a gastrointestinal condition that would warrant a PPI prescription.”
There are other preliminary studies, which need further research and large scale confirmation, reported that the long term use of PPI could possibly lead to higher risk of chronic renal disease, dementia, osteoporosis, low magnesium blood level, Clostridium deficile infection, community-acquired pneumonia and shortening of the telomere, suggestive of shorter life span. All these are postulates that require more extensive clinical studies to be accepted a valid. Also, each individual has a unique genetic constitution and will therefore generally react differently.
The researchers have this advice: "Although our results should not deter prescription and use of PPI where medically indicated, they may be used to encourage and promote pharmacovigilance and emphasize the need to exercise judicious use of PPI and limit use and duration of therapy to instances where there is a clear medical indication and where benefit outweighs potential risk."
For any concerns, discuss them with your family physician, who is familiar with your individual health details.
* * *
Chocolate and your heartbeats

Chocolate lovers can rejoice: A 13-year study of 55,000 individuals in Denmark revealed that those who ate chocolates “often tended to have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that raises stroke risk.” The risk of AF was about 10 percent lower among those who had one to 3 servings of chocolates a month, and 17 percent lower risk for those ate one serving a week and 20 percent lower still among individuals who had 2 to 6 servings a week. The benefit was found to taper off at 16 percent among adults who ate one or more 1-ounce serving of chocolate a day. Although chocolates contain high levels of flavanol, it is not clear why it provides this anti-arrythmic benefit. But the researchers advise moderation as a prudent key.
* * *
Over-the-counter hearing aids
Hearing aids today could cost as much as $6,000 or more. They are so small one could hardly see them and works very well. Obviously, this is too pricey for most of us and many have no choice but to accept the hearing handicap or consider over-the-counter hearing aids, whose quality is mostly doubted.
But there is good news: The Journal of the American Medical Association recent study shows that “some over-the-counter sound amplification devices are nearly as effective as prescription hearing aids.”
The investigators evaluated and “compared five personal sound amplification products on the market with one hearing aid in 40 older adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.”
The findings revealed that “speech understanding improved with the hearing aid and four of the amplification products. For three of the products (Sound World Solution sCS50+, Soundhawk, Etymotic BEAN), the improvement in speech understanding was within 5 percentage points of that of the hearing aid.”
The conclusion of this study “lend support to current national initiatives ... requesting that the US Food and Drug Administration to create a new regulatory classification for hearing devices meeting appropriate specifications to be available over the counter."
* * *
In the past, we have pointed out the alarming association between poor oral hygiene and dental infections and cardiovascular diseases. While this link may sound remote and ridiculous, this relationship is evidence-based, medically proven.
Statistics from 2011 to 2014 show that among 5-19 years of age, untreated dental caries was about 18.6 percent and among adults (20-44) about 31.6 percent. Between ages 18-64, 36 percent had not visited a dentist in 2016.
Unfortunately, dental care is not only for a “mouth or oral” problem. It would be more expensive and life threatening to have heart attack/stroke, etc., than a visit to the dentist every six months.
* * *
Loud music causing deafness?

Yes, and not only music. Prolonged or repeated exposure to any type of very loud noise or sound can cause damage to the auditory nerve damage, which could lead to varying degrees of hearing impairment, and even to permanent deafness. Headset users should set the volume of sound to a safe level. A simple way to do this is to turn the volume down until you can barely hear it, then gradually increasing the loudness (and adjusting the treble and the base if possible) to a comfortable level.

* * *

Does surgery make cancer spread?

No, this is a myth. Doing surgery or “opening the patient up” does not cause metastasis (spread) of the cancer. In general, cancer proliferates rapidly to invade surrounding tissues and distant organs. The misconception resulted from the refusal of patients suspected or confirmed to have cancer to be operated on early when first advised, and had delayed the surgery so much that the malignant tumor had already spread beyond help before acceding to have the operation. So, when the surgeons operated on them that late, invariably the cancer had already spread all over. When the patients soon expired, people blamed the surgery as the cause of the spread. Today, almost everybody knows that prompt detection and early operation in the treatment of cancer gives the best chance for a cure for majority of patients with malignancy.




By Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza

The already difficult process of immigrating to the United States can be greatly complicated and delayed when the government decides that the noncitizen is inadmissible – a finding which often necessitates the filing of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility. The most common grounds of inadmissibility (i.e., ineligibility to be admitted to the United States) which require a waiver include unlawful presence in the United States in excess of 180 days, the commission of fraud to gain an immigration benefit, and certain criminal convictions. Unfortunately, not all applications for a waiver of inadmissibility are granted. In fact, a significant percentage of such applications are denied. Fortunately, for many, the denial of an application for a waiver need not be the final word on an individual’s attempt to immigrate to the United States. For many, options still remain which keep alive their prospects of immigrating.
Any review of the denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility begins with a basic question – is the applicant inadmissible to the United States? To put it simply, there are instances when an individual is found by the government to be inadmissible to the United States when in fact he is not. While an individual may have filed an application for a waiver because he or she was directed to do so by the government, in some instances the correct course of action would have been to legally and/or factual argue that no such application was required. Unfortunately, without competent representation, the basic mistake of failing to contest an initial finding of inadmissibility is more likely to occur. Where it can (and should) be argued that an application for a waiver never should have been requested in the first instance, an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can pursue a variety of options to redress such an error. These options include the timely filing of a motion with the government to rectify such an error, or through the refiling of the case with a legal brief addressing the issue of inadmissibility. Both of these options often prove successful.
In those instances in which an application for a waiver was properly requested by the government, a significant number of these applications are ultimately denied because they are inadequately prepared. Filing an application for a waiver of inadmissibility is complicated – the legal standard for the granting of the waiver must be met, and this must be accomplished through the presentation of legally sufficient supporting evidence. Even minor defects in an application can result in a denial. As a result, individuals who have a strong legal and factual basis for the granting of a waiver of inadmissibility often have their applications denied because their applications were not adequately prepared. However, the denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility does not preclude the filing of subsequent application. This point is extremely significant for those who have had their applications for a waiver denied – there is still hope even after a denial. As the preparation of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility is a complex endeavor, with little margin for error, the best chance an individual has to obtain an approval of his or her application is through retaining an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney. While it is preferable to do so at the onset of the process, even once an application for a waiver is denied, an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can prepare a superior subsequent application which will afford an applicant a much higher chance of obtaining an approval.
The approval or denial of an application for a waiver of inadmissibility will in most instances decide whether an individual will immigrate to the United States. Too often, individuals receive denials of their applications; and many of these applications were not required in the first instance, or could have been approved if they had only been adequately prepared. Fortunately, most of these individuals have options regardless of when their waivers were denied – days, weeks, or even years ago. An experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can advise an individual of his or her options, and pursue the appropriate course of action to overcome a prior denial. The process of immigrating to the United States seldom affords second chances. One of the few exceptions is for applicants seeking a waiver of inadmissibility. For waivers of inadmissibility, the old adage proves true – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


That June 16, 2016 meeting with Trump Team members in attendance

It's no longer a witch hunt as dubbed by President Trump when, at a highly-described meeting of June 9, 2016, his oldest son, Donald Trump. Jr., met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who reportedly promised to share political information in reference to the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Initially, those reported as attendees in the aforesaid meeting were: Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at that time, and Jared Kushner, the then Republican presidential candidate's son-in-law, currently a senior adviser of the president.
Per released and published e-mails, the world has known more details about that now well-known gathering.
Trump, Jr.'s initial explanation touching on the same meeting was ostensibly to help Russian orphans in reference to Russia's freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans.
However clearly identified the younger Trump's interpretation of the meeting was disseminated, the New York Times named conflicting information about the raison d'etre in touching on the story.
The same paper indicated that Ms. Veselnitskaya had "promised damaging material on Ms. Clinton which the Trump scion called essentially meaningless," and merely a "pretext" for discussing the adoption angle.
Questions have inevitably arisen: what is the extent of the knowledge that the Trump campaign had relevant to the Russian government's activities to inflict harm on the Clinton's quest for the presidency?
Doubt has entered the Trump Junior's explanation in regard to the Veselnitskaya's presence that the meeting in question was not a first contact.
In addition, prior to the meeting, a question has arisen: was Trump Jr. aware that the Russians might have expected his father to support the subject the above-named lawyer insisted on? Was it intended to be one in discussing international adoption sanctions and the anticipated category of quid pro quo?
The Russian law preventing Americans from adopting Russian children was not unknown; it was passed in retaliation of U.S. sanctions supposedly targeted at associates of President Vladimir Putin.
Another question that should be answered by Trump, Jr.: did he expect that the Russians would give him invaluable information without expecting anything in return? The younger Trump 's skills were bruited around by his father's campaign leaders about his skills as a negotiator.
What is clear and remains clear: Donald Trump, Jr., voluntarily met with someone known with ties to the Russian government, mainly to receive damaging evidence about Clinton that might have influenced the U.S. 2016 election in favor of his father.
Trump, Jr., has asserted strongly that he did not receive useful information for the above-named aim, so no crime was committed.
But some criminal lawyers' statements contradict his statements.
"Intent to commit a crime is still a crime," has been advanced.
There are 196 countries all over the globe.
Among those in addition to the U.S., Canada and Russia, there are several more, including China, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, Israel, Iran and perhaps Brazil, have the capability to engage in cyber hacking.
All of the above-named countries have more than a passing interest in the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Yet, to this very date, no reliable information has surfaced that any foreign country other than Russia, has made an effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.
A note of interest: during the past presidential campaign: Donald Trump asserted that he could go out on New York City's Fifth Avenue and shoot someone; people would still support him, he vigorously added. Amid what's been happening since he became the U.S. president on January 20th, it seems Trump's assumption no longer seems questionable.
What remains clear however, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were at that meeting and their presence could never be underestimated despite answers to the contrary: they were all representing the older Trump's interest.


Zero results after six months

Six months after assuming the US presidency, Donald Trump has accomplished absolutely nothing of consequence.
Not a single campaign promise he made has been kept, and despite herculean efforts on the part of the leadership of the Republican Party, his primary promise of scrapping Obamacare now appears dead on the water.
The lower house may have passed a replacement bill to Obamacare, one which Mr. Trump initially claimed was a better version, but which he later all but disowned as being too unkind.
When it reached the Senate, however, the shortcomings of the substitute bill became evident. Still, with 52 senators belonging to the GOP, the revised health care act might have passed. After all, it only needed 50 votes to pass into law, which Mr. Trump would have claimed was his first of many successes as chief executive.
Alas, it will not come to pass. As of this writing, at least four Republican senators have said in no uncertain terms that they will not vote for the bill that some have referred to as Trumpcare.
The reason is simple. Trumpcare is far inferior to Obamacare, and would result in anywhere from 22 million to 23 million Americans losing their health coverage if passed into law.
So it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump presidency.
It is not clear how the president will package his impending defeat, although there is a good chance he will pin the blame on the Democrats. Perhaps his spin doctors will claim some sort of moral victory.
Next, the Republicans will try to pass a bill to “correct” the deficiencies in the tax system, which in all likelihood will give millionaires and billionaires tax breaks that they do not need, thereby putting pressure on the middle and lower class.
They will argue that giving tax breaks to the rich will result in more jobs being created, as the super rich can now expand their businesses with the money they save.
This theory has never been proven, by the way.
Then the GOP will turn to that other ludicrous promise of Mr. Trump, which is to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. He also wants the Mexican government to pay for that wall.
If even a part of that wall is built, we can imagine what the Democrat candidate in the 2020 election will say to re-electionist Trump. That candidate will use the words of the late President Ronald Reagan when he addressed USSR Premier Mikhail Gorbachev when talking about the Berlin Wall.
“Tear down this wall, Mr. Trump,” the Democrat will say, “Tear down this wall.”
That’s presuming that Mr. Trump will still be around as president in 2020, of course. And also presuming that he still wants to be president three and a half years from now, after learning in his first six months as POTUS that the job is nothing like what he expected.
But if his presidency maintains its present downward trajectory, there’s a good chance that he will be a one-term chief executive that his own party will have given up on even before next year’s midterm elections.
All because his talk has been nothing but hot air.


A change of ownership, and why it matters

For those of us in media, most especially those who worked at one time or another in the country’s largest and most respected newspaper, the news both stunned and caught us flat-footed.
The paper I refer to is the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer, or very simply PDI. There will be arguments with fans, followers and employees of the other big papers, namely the Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin. But in my book, PDI is the one. It set the standards for journalistic integrity, independence, vision, and just plain balls.
As such, PDI has made a lot of enemies over the years. Today, no less than President Duterte has vowed to crush PDI, more specifically its present owners, the Prietos. I suspect this is the real reason for the sudden sale of the paper.
Mr. Duterte’s threats against PDI, as well as another media giant ABS-CBN, sends a chilling effect on the newsroom. He is no ordinary president, having said time and again that it’s all right to kill those who he perceives to be his enemies.
This week, the Prietos announced that they were selling their shares of stock to San Miguel Corporation head honcho Ramon Ang.
There is a promise that there will be no changes in the newsroom, but I seriously doubt if this will be the case.
For the record, I worked with the PDI family and I found company to be as professional as possible. No, it was not perfect, but at least there were serious attempts to be the best possible newspaper in the business.
Incidentally, I was with Inquirer Publications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PDI, as Editor-in-Chief of their tabloid Bandera. I stayed for three years and constantly interacted with the editors of PDI. I sometimes regret not taking their offer for me to transfer to the big paper.
The best thing I liked about working in the Inquirer group was the complete and total editorial independence. The editors of PDI led by the late Letty Magsanoc made it quite clear to the owners that they were united in demanding editorial independence and integrity at all times. It was almost as if the employees were telling the owners what to do and what not to do.
Not surprisingly, the Prietos agreed to the arrangement.
The CEO of the paper was Sandy Prieto, and I was somewhat bothered by the fact that she had married a Romualdez (AKA the Enemy, as the newsroom was full of ladies and gents who never forgot what the Marcos-Romualdez clan had done to press freedom and Philippine democracy in general). But Sandy was a pretty nice boss and she always kept clear of editorial work.
To be sure, PDI was not always clean, reputation-wise. As with any large organization, there was bound to be some bad eggs here and there. Also, there were mistakes made in the coverage of major stories, but the intention was never mean or vicious.
So now, the glory days of PDI may be coming to an end. I pray not, but I expect major changes to take place in terms of editorial policy.
I do not know very much about the new owner. All I know is that he was a creation of Danding Cojuangco, who passed on the reins of SMC when age and failing health began to take its toll. I’ve heard rumors about Ramon Ang, of course, and not all have been favorable.
Suffice it to say that I would not want to be in the Inquirer newsroom at this time under the new ownership.
One more thing, when I say that I consider PDI the best of the Philippine broadsheets, I have to clarify that from where I sit, the true best of the best local newspaper is or was BusinessWorld, where I spent almost a decade in various capacities.
As a business daily, it never competed with the other broadsheets since its concentration was mostly on economic and financial matters.
Sadly, BusinessWorld changed when the late, great Raul Locsin – founder, chairman, and quite possibly the best newspaperman the country has produced – passed away. His equally terrific wife Letty Locsin stayed on after Don Raul passed, but she too followed him to the great beyond soon thereafter.
Although I had stints in other broadsheets, I consider PDI and BusinessWorld as the only newspapers worth working for. And while both papers are still around, the spirit of the old PDI and BW is gone.
Good thing for me there’s still Philippine News. At least this paper still maintains the independence and integrity that is so important to this now grizzled old vet.


Kin of ‘Tokhang’ victims need healing

By: Jocelyn R. Uy - Reporter / @mj_uyINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

‘ORA PRO NOBIS’ Families of drug suspects killed in the war on drugs join aMass and procession for their loved ones and themselves in Parañaque City. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Ana, 43, and her two teenage daughters are in a huddle on a pavement, putting together shards of colored tiles to form an image of a big tree.

It has been like this since summer: Eight hours daily, Ana works in mosaic art so she can feed and send her children to school.

But more than that, she needs to calm her tormented soul and heal her grief.

“I find comfort in the idea that no matter how broken a piece of tile is, you can still make something beautiful out of it. So even if our family is no longer complete, I hope something good can still happen,” Ana said.

Ana lost her husband and 19-year-old son to President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in September last year. She and her four children have been living in trauma and constant anxiety since.

They moved out of their small shanty in a slum colony in Metro Manila for fear that police would kill another member of the family.

Ana’s eldest daughter, a psychology student, dropped out of school to look for a job.

Before tragedy struck, Ana juggled odd jobs, doing laundry and cleaning houses in her old neighborhood.

Her husband augmented her small earnings by working as a drug runner, bringing home P200 to P300.

Now in her new job doing mosaic art, Ana brings all her children—two daughters, aged 18 and 17 and two boys, 11 and 8—to work to make sure that they are all safe.

“We are still shaken by what happened. Whenever my smaller children see a policeman, they tremble and tell me we should all hide,” she said.

Living in fear
Like Ana, 25-year-old Maria lost two members of her family—her father and eldest brother, who was a single parent—in the first wave of the drug killings in July last year.

Although hard up, she took in her brother’s 8-year-old daughter. “Now, I have three daughters in all and I also have to send her to school,” she said.

But because her husband had been identified as a drug peddler, they moved out of their home, entrusting their children to their parents. Now, they see them only on weekends.

Fear has also shrunk their world. “We make sure that we’re home before it gets dark. We also put multiple locks on our door,” Maria said.

Ana and Maria represent the other face of the war on drugs: broken families living under constant fear and trauma, mothers and wives becoming sole breadwinners, and orphaned children.

According to Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang, a clinical psychologist and family therapist, the family is the unit of society most hurt by the war on drugs and many such families are either ignored, pitied or blamed rather than helped.

As the government has no intention of easing the campaign against narcotics, she said, it must establish a program that will help the families of those killed recover from trauma and fear, and help them become productive.

Private groups can also take part in this effort, she said.

Priority for children
Traumatized children should be given priority, she said. If neglected, these children could suffer psychological disorders, such as depression, and may even take drugs, she warned.

Dr. Tomas Bautista, a psychiatrist at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, said the benefits of the antidrug war to the community—safer streets and fewer criminals—would be just temporary if the government would not deal with the roots of drug abuse.

“Today, we might feel safer because there are fewer criminals on the loose. But even if we extinguish all adult drug users while poverty persists, the next generation will have the same problem,” Bautista said.

From a clinical perspective, Bautista said, drug addiction is an illness caused by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.

Poor communities
Poverty, he said, generates citizens who have an unhealthy brain circuit for happiness because they don’t have the right nutrition to produce the building blocks for happy chemicals and also lacked education to balance this.

And poverty, he said, is the reason drug use is higher in poor communities.

Many poor people, in desperate need for gratification and happiness, turn to illegal drugs to turn on the switch responsible for releasing happy hormones in the brain, he said.

“People will just shift to another [addictive substance], like alcohol, or to behavioral addiction, like gambling, as long as poverty fuels [their] desperation for gratification and happiness,” he added.

The overly gratified also falls into drug abuse to satiate too many happiness receptors in the brain, he said.

“I really hope that the government and society [will] further broaden their view of the drug problem,” Bautista said.


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