Document Type


Publication Date



This article traces the trajectory of the Catholic Church’s discourses on drug use in the Philippines since the first time a statement was made in the 1970s. By drawing on official statements by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), it argues that shifts in emphasis have taken place through the years: the destruction of the youth, attack on human dignity, and then social moral decay. Collectively, they emanate from an institutional concern for peace and order. But they also reflect the moral panic around drug use that has been around for decades, which, on several occasions, Filipino politicians, including President Duterte, have mobilized as a populist trope. In this way, the article historicizes the Catholic Church’s official statements and frames them in terms of morality politics through which values and corresponding behavior are defined by an influential institution on behalf of society whose morality it deems is in decline. The article ends by reflecting on the recent statements by the CBCP that invoke compassion and redemption.