Drug traffickers have historically had their way with the easily accessed Philippine Archipelago. They come and go with impunity from tiny island ports, leaving behind them massive ruination. It has been an insolvable problem. But inspired by the “Colombian Miracle,” where distribution of The Way to Happiness helped transform a war-torn nation, Scientologist Jerry Perez de Tagle, started his own The Way To Happiness campaign to help save his home country from drugs, violence and corruption.
Before his election as president on an aggressive anti-drug platform, Rodrigo Duterte was mayor of Davao for 20 years. Jerry Perez de Tagle got to know the future president there, and understood his campaign to stop illegal drugs and other forms of criminality—fast. He was witness to the Duterte government’s violent crackdown on drug users and dealers that allowed police and squads of vigilantes to kill suspects with no due process of law. Under the umbrella of this highly controversial operation, police and vigilantes killed more than 5,000 people in drug-related operations.
The government went so far as to create a “Watch List” of drug abusers and sellers who could be targeted. According to the Philippine Information Agency, over one million drug users and dealers turned themselves into authorities to avoid being killed after learning they were on the list. Those listed are now required to undergo rehabilitation through which law enforcement and local government officials are pushing former drug offenders to live productive lives through legal employment.
Jerry Perez de Tagle realized that educating the police in The Way to Happiness, then arming them with copies to distribute as an educational and preventative tool, could be a vanguard for reform. His view was validated as officials supported rehabilitation over armed retribution. The campaign he set in motion—now on track to expand in 2018—came to the Philippines in time to help many—who have now escaped the murder-by-watch-list.