JUST moments after the Monday online edition of the Manila Times came out, I was swamped with messages on my Facebook account from readers who accompanied their comments with lengthy citations of opinions and news stories from various sources. Evidently, because of the length of the literature they sent, my readers decided to send them through the messenger of my Facebook account instead of to the normal space provided for comments which would not have accommodated those materials in their entirety. The comments were in regard to my column entitled “China to Duterte’s rescue, but for how long?”
For instance, a reader, Gabriel Barney, who claims to be a religious follower of my column, answers the question in the title thus: “as long as China can continue to sell their drugs in Philippines.”
The comment shocked me. It had never occurred to me that China could be the source of the illegal drugs proliferating in the Philippines. In fact, in one of my early discussions of the drugs war, I asked the question by way of the title of my article: “Can Duterte combat illegal drugs if not by the Mao Zedong line?” I recalled the war on drugs conducted by the Chinese Communist Party upon assuming power in 1949 which resulted in the reduction of the number of Chinese drug addicts from 70 million to none in just three years. By 1952, there was not a single drug addict in China, and the opium growers and drugs smugglers had all been eradicated. Much further down history, specifically on July 3, 2013, a Filipina drug mule was executed by the Chinese government for having been found guilty of smuggling 6.198 kilograms of heroin into China. The execution of the woman, who was never identified, capped a series of four other executions of convicted Filipino drug mules in China. Based on the record, how then can one rightly say that China’s trade in illegal drugs in the Philippines is reason for it to continue propping up Duterte? Part and parcel of Chinese history has been a fierce unwavering combat against illegal drugs.
As a matter of practice, I exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with readers’ comments. I give my readers exactly the same due which I accord myself: freedom of speech. Only on rare occasions do I come out openly reacting to readers’ opinions: when what readers puts at bar is the integrity of my writing. This instance is one such rare occasion.
What reader Gabriel Barney questions in effect was my lauding China for its assistance to the Filipino nation when, as he implies, China is actually to be condemned for being behind the Philippines’ narco problem. One article he attaches to his comment is titled “China leads the world in synthetic drug production” which appears in the website KINDLAND, with the subtitle, “Why crystal meth and synthetic psychoactives are so popular in China.”
The article says, quoting a United Nations report, that synthetic drugs and amphetamines, toxic-by-design substances, are mostly being made in China, where the chemical ingredients are easy to come by. And it goes on to say that “East, Southeast Asia and Oceania have the largest ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants) market in the world and in recent years the scope and availability of NPS (new psychoactive substances) has rapidly expanded. Moreover, this synthetic drugs market is becoming more complex and interconnected with other regions.”
According to the article, synthetic substances are so malleable for mixing with other substances such that when one mixture is banned, the substance-makers simply find a yet non-banned ingredient for mixing with the basic substance and thereby producing an entirely new concoction.
On the whole, China is being depicted as the producer of such basic substance capable of being transformed into the evil drugs that are rampant in the narco trade in the country. In this light, however huge China’s economic assistance to the Philippines is, it appears to be negated by the disastrous effects wrought by the illegal drugs trade on the lives and moral fiber of the Filipinos, particularly the youth. And in fact, what is pictured is China pouring in economic grants and loans to the Philippines for the facilitation of its greater interest in drugs deals.
In other words, how hypocritical of China to be posturing to be very generous with aid to the Philippines when in fact it is visiting the Filipino nation with all the misfortunes of a narco state: breakdown in morality, crime and prostitution, corruption in government, collapse of law and order.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China in October 2016, an article appeared in the Manila Times, written by Edsel Tupaz, elaborating on this issue. The same reader provided me a link for that article, part of which said:
“… President Duterte announced that he would ask his counterpart in China during his state visit there this week why so many Chinese nationals are involved in the drug trade in the Philippines. As Duterte’s war on drugs continues to unravel Chinese links in the overall drug trade, more and more people are speculating about whether Beijing has been waging a form of state-sponsored “drug warfare” aimed at the Philippines, its main rival in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) disputes. In this scenario, the Beijing politburo has been deploying an unconventional warfare strategy by clandestinely pumping drugs into the country as a means of destabilizing its adversary. Drug warfare is thought to form part of a ‘culture warfare,’ a broader penumbra, aimed at corrupting the moral fabric of a rival nation and weakening its human resource base.”
This is yet another shocking notion: that the drugs menace in the Philippines is a conscious Chinese machination, a form of warfare.
Readers—or at least those who follow my column – will remember that in the long lingering dispute between the United States and China over the South China (West Philippine) Sea, I have never deviated from the conviction that of the two protagonists, China has never gone into invading other nations’ territories; it is the United States which has, its aggression of the Philippines in the 1900s being one such invasion. The archives of this paper will bear out my unwavering position on this issue: that China will never attack the Philippines.
But now here comes this rather sarcastic aside from Reader Barney, indicating that the abominable war on drugs being waged by President Duterte against mainly small illegal drugs offenders is actually the offspring of a mother monster that has spawned those drugs, the monstrosity being China. A journalist writes with no expectation of reward but to be acknowledged as telling the truth. In my many past pieces on China, have I then been telling lies?
(To be continued tomorrow)