UNDER the shadow of North Korea’s threat of a nuclear missile strike against the US territory of Guam and US President Donald Trump’s counter-threat to hit Pyongyang with “fire, fury and power the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Asia and the world have moved into a new security and defense condition, which many people are not prepared for. Millions of Filipinos, among them.
In the US media, more and more people are talking not about why Kim Jong-un would strike, but about why Trump would. One commentator hopes Trump would remember what Saint Augustine and all the others have said about the principle of the just war, while another seems resigned that Trump would strike not only because he believes North Korea is a rogue state and a rabid dog, but also because Trump is Trump—aggressive, impulsive, egotistic, and because he has already threatened to do so on many occasions, and with all his problems in the world, he would love a distraction, and he cannot find a reason not to go nuclear.
Where JFK and Nikita failed
Between Kim and Trump we have two men competing for the honor of delivering faster the world’s first nuclear war—which Kennedy and Khrushchev had avoided 55 years ago during the Cuban missile crisis. Japan, which lies in the path of such a North Korean missile strike, has deployed Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile systems in at least four prefectures in preparation for such an eventuality. Yet, although President Rodrigo Duterte has said Chinese missiles from the disputed islands in the Spratlys could hit Manila in seven minutes, our defense department assures us we are out of range of Kim Jong-un’s missiles. This is an improvement upon Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s statement that the Chinese missiles aimed at our gut are purely for “self-defense”.
The DoD’s assessment may or may not be correct. Whether or not this is so, should North Korea attack Guam or the US attack North Korea, we could expect the DU30 government and other political and armed groups in the country to exploit the situation to their fullest advantage. Our national security situation could get worse. This should not cause any surprises. But with or without Kim’s missile threat, and the possibility of a new Korean war breaking out, the illegal shipment of 605 kgs of dangerous drugs from China—which got past the Bureau of Customs and DU30’s brutal war on drugs in May, was discovered after it reached a Chinese trader’s warehouse in Valenzuela City, and hit the headlines only a few months later—has shown that we do not need nuclear missiles from Pyongyang or the Spratlys to be attacked from abroad.
A regular export to PH
Both the North Koreans and the Chinese may be credited for this. First, the Chinese. Clearly the Chinese dangerous drugs export to the Philippines, which does not appear to be banned or penalized in China (I hope this is completely mistaken), is attacking the moral and social fabric of our society, particularly the young and the poor, every day. While DU30 and PNP Chief “Bato” de la Rosa are busy justifying the thousands of barefoot drug suspects being “slaughtered like animals,” as The New York Times pictorial report puts it, or a city mayor being killed inside his detention cell at a subprovincial jail in Baybay, Leyte, at four o’clock in the morning, or another city mayor, his wife and 13 other relatives being massacred inside their residences in Ozamiz city before dawn of an innocent Sunday morning, the Chinese manufacturers of “shabu” (metamphetamine hydrochloride) are flooding the country with the same instruments of death, in cooperation with untouchable Chinese traders and Filipino officials and politicians.
Did he not know this?
Was DU30 unaware of this operation when he launched his brutal war on drugs, which he promised to end in six months, and when he decided to align himself with China and Russia “against the world” while threatening to separate economically and militarily from the US, in his proud version of an “independent” foreign policy? Was Cayetano aware of it when he declared the Chinese missiles, capable of flattening defenseless Manila in seven minutes, were purely for Beijing’s “self-defense”? Or, when he spoke for China’s position on the South China Sea, rather than for his own country’s, in the recently concluded Asean foreign ministers meeting in Manila? It would be presumptuous on our part to suggest that the President did not know.
When Ferdinand Marcos decided to recognize the People’s Republic of China under its One-China Policy in 1975, in exchange for the Philippines’ longtime excellent relations with the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan, one of the first things he asked for was that the Chinese Communist Party cease and desist from actively funding, arming, and training the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. And Beijing was happy to comply with this request. This explains the drying up of support for the CPP/NPA until Cory Aquino came to power after the fall of Marcos.
Did DU3O make a similar “request,” in relation to China’s and its allies’ continued support for the CPP/NPA/NDF, or in relation to the program intended to weaken the moral and social fabric of the Filipino youth, through dangerous drugs? Has DU30 never mentioned the subject to his Chinese patrons and friends before he embarked on his war on drugs, or even after the discovery of the P6.4 billion “shabu” shipment?
If only for Paolo’s sake
In light of some people’s efforts to link DU30’s son Paolo, the vice mayor of Davao City, to this particular shipment, did the President not try at all to verify from the Chinese government the names of those who guaranteed to the source that the illegal shipment would be released by the authorities, without any questions asked?
Instead of saying that all he needs is an affidavit saying “Pulong” is involved in the drugs business, and that he would immediately resign his office, he should perhaps ask President Xi Jinping to instruct his subordinates to brief him on all the personalities involved in the drugs trade with the Philippines.
With Vice President Leni Robredo accepting the chairmanship of the Liberal Party, and the party itself preparing to take a more active oppositionist stance, I would be very careful in saying all I need to see is an affidavit naming the young DU30 and I would resign. Of course, all he needed to do in his first few months was to list down all the so-called drug suspects and they started dropping off like flies.
To go back to the 605-kg, P6.4 billion shabu shipment. The 40-foot container contained 23 crates. Only five were inspected and seized. These contained “shabu” weighing 605 kgs, with a market value of P6.4 billion. What happened to the 18 other crates? Why were they not inspected? Who decided on this? Where are the 18 crates now? Assuming they contained the same prohibited stuff, then the government lost 2,160 kgs. of shabu, worth P22 billion. A much bigger portion of the shipment did get away, and is probably being sold in sachets in street corners now, if it has not been repacked and shipped onward to other markets.
More of the same recovered
Congressional sources have reported that on the evening of the day the five crates were seized in Valenzuela, five other similar crates were found inside an unoccupied house in Sampaloc, Manila. These had been emptied of their contents, but they yielded chemical traces of the same prohibited stuff, the sources said. Given the extent of customs corruption which this particular shipment has exposed—Sen. Panfilo Lacson puts the payoff to customs employees at P270 million a day—the most important question that arises is, How many such shipments have gone through the “green lane”, unchecked, and how long has this been going on?
One can only ask the question, no data or estimates are available. But that China is a big producer, manufacturer and source of illegal drugs is beyond doubt; the drug traffic from China makes sure the supply never runs out even if DU30’s police and “vigilantes” eliminate drug pushers and users in the ghettos by the thousands. Thus drug trafficking will remain a lucrative business for those involved in it, while the killing of drug suspects becomes an efficient means of social cleansing and population control.
Amazingly, despite DU30’s propensity to threaten to kill mayors and other politicians allegedly involved in drugs, he has not threatened to kill anybody involved in the gargantuan shipment. One reader said he could not believe the President’s “Olympian silence.”
DU30 has not asked Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to show cause why he should not be fired; on the contrary, he has expressed full confidence in the former military mutineer, even as the latter’s lady chief of staff has called attention to herself by gratuitously denouncing House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez an “imbecile”, which one observer thought was an outrageous slander against all “imbeciles.”
Given the many things DU30 has done for Beijing, including speaking against his country’s own self-interest in the South China Sea, he should be able to ask his patrons and friends there to help him put an end to the dangerous drugs run from China. The illegal drugs traffic should end now.
In addition, he could, like Marcos in 1975, ask Beijing to ask North Korea and other allies to stop arming and funding of the CCP/NPA/NDF and other anti-government groups in the country. On one of his earlier trips to the Southeast Asian mainland last year, DU30 took with him some communist members of his Cabinet and representatives of other militant groups. They were reported to have met with members of the communist parties of North Korea and other Southeast Asian countries to discuss expanded cooperation in order to fast-track the establishment of a socialist state in the Philippines.
After a year in office, DU30 has probably seen this project will not work, and that the time has come to accept the political realities. Although DU30 started with a high popularity rating in the push polls, the wave of crime and corruption has taken a toll on his political capital. A growing number of people no longer laugh at his offensive and vulgar jokes. A sorely disgruntled woman’s allegation that her estranged husband, the Chairman of the Commission on Election, had earned over P1 billion in the last presidential elections, and had hidden the money in 35 separate accounts in an obscure rural (thrift) bank, has begun to provoke questions about the integrity of the last elections, where DU30 was credited with 38 percent of all the votes.
New doubts on 2016 election
For the first time since the May elections, some people are now asking, Did DU30 benefit from Chairman Andres Bautista’s unholy deal with Smartmatic, the widely denounced foreign-owned counting machine? Did he not get extra help from cyberspace? In the US, Trump has not been allowed to rest from the accusation that Russian cyberwarriors had helped him get elected. Nothing like this has happened to DU30. But since the Bautista scandal erupted, I have been hearing people ask, was there no possibility that DU30 got similar electoral help from some foreign (not necessarily Russian) operatives? DU30’s strongest support has come from the social media, where a well-funded army of trolls throws everything at anyone who tries to hold DU30 accountable for what he says or does.