Philippines Harm Reductionists Share Their Vision Amid a Murderous Drug War

January 2, 2019

“It has never been about drugs. It has always been about people.”

That’s the motto of NoBox Transitions, a courageous Philippines harm reduction organization working to provide services and advocacy for people who use drugs.

They do this in the context of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous drug war, which has resulted in the extra-judicial executions of an estimated 27,000 people suspected of using or selling drugs since 2016.

When I visited Manila and interviewed some of the NoBox team members at their headquarters, they told me about their philosophy and the meaning of their name, about dominant attitudes to drug use in a deeply religious country, and about being “hungry” for harm reduction influences from elsewhere in the world.

“Decriminalize drug use,” says team member Ruod Ariete in the original Filter video above, “so that these people don’t fear going to jail, or even getting killed right now in this political atmosphere.”

Helen Redmond

Helen is the senior editor of Filter. She has written about nicotine, mental health and drug policy for publications including Al Jazeera, AlterNet, Harper’s and The Influence. As an LCSW, she works with drug users in medical and community mental health settings. An expert on tobacco harm reduction, she provides training and consultation on mental health, nicotine use and THR, and in 2016 organized the first Tobacco Harm Reduction Conference in the US. Helen is also a documentary filmmaker.

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