YESTERDAY’S newspapers burst with news reports about arrests of ordinary people with big dreams of becoming drug lords someday, like 28-year-old dishwasher Raymond Baclado and his 22-year-old girlfriend Janice Pansoy. The two yielded P750,000 worth of shabu in a police buy-bust operation in Barangay Rizal Estanzuela, Iloilo City the other day. They had come from Naga, Cebu, the police said, in time for the forthcoming Dinagyang Festival.
Take note that Baclado is a dishwasher by vocation. There are many other “lowly” isang-kahig-isang-tuka workers like him – trisikad drivers, tricycle drivers, jeepney drivers, street vendors – who have been apprehended in drug buy-busts. They have succumbed to the “carrot” dangled by wealthy drug dealers – the opportunity to “retire” from lifetime poverty.
That simply means that, as in Colombia and Mexico, not even extrajudicial killings would end the illegal drug trade. If supplies of shabu and other prohibited drugs keep coming in from untouchable sources, there will always be desperate risk takers willing to bite the “carrot.”
If you have relatives abroad, you must have heard them gnashing teeth over how ugly the image of the Philippine government has morphed because of “extrajudicial killings” committed in the name of “war on drugs”. It’s as if the Philippines has become the most “shabulized” nation in the world. It’s as if drug addiction were our biggest problem.
Like cigarette smoking, drug addiction feeds on availability of the addictive substance. It could only be stopped either by “curing” the addiction (easier said than done) or rounding up foreign sources of drugs and their well-connected local conduits.
It would no longer be shocking to announce that high-level officials at the Bureau of Customs have collaborated with foreign suppliers to ensure the entry of the contraband.
Let us not forget that the alleged biggest drug lord in the Philippines, Peter Lim, is still at large. If he is the same Peter Lim who paid a visit to his kumpare Digong in July 2016, then we know why the long arm of the law is not long enough to get him. If, as rumored, he heads a sub-group of one of the drug syndicates comprising the Chinese Triad, then all this “war on drugs” would eventually emerge as a farce.
Years before Duterte came to power, five Triad groups were reported to be operating in the Philippines, namely the Big Circle Gang, United Bamboo Gang, 14K Gang, Ghost Shadows and San Yee on. They laundered drug money abroad through the shadowy “Binondo Central Bank.”
The present Triad big bosses – based in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau – are believed to be the organizers of large-scale drug trafficking from mainland China.
Remember, the first big shabu shipment from China worth P6-4-billion shabu was discovered at the Hong Fei Logistics warehouse in Valenzuela City on May 26, 2017. Its discovery temporarily caused the loss of job of then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, who has already been “kicked up” as the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief.
Under its jurisdiction is the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, where hardened drug lords are believed to be still operating by “remote control.”
Remember when, during the Fidel Ramos administration, an alleged Chinese-Filipino drug lord known as Fred Tiongco was arrested in Hong Kong? Whether true or false, Senator Tito Sotto broke into the headlines as Fred’s “friend” sometime in 1998.
Sotto, now Senate President, has “changed,” being now on the warpath against illegal drugs; hence, an advocate kuno of death penalty for drug dealers.
Sad, but as the saying goes, “We deserve the leaders we elect.” (firstname.lastname@example.org/PN)