“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;”
— From IF by Rudyard Kipling
OURS is a controversial time. There is continuing debate in media—social or otherwise—on the unfolding events with the onset of the new national administration. Some say a new era is coming; others maintain that it is nothing but more of the name—the methodology is the same, the theatrical components are as usual. As they say, everything remains the same. In this country, partisan controversies never end, even if the elections are over. On this respect, nothing ever changes; it is business as usual. The partisans use language that hurt, even harm, to the prejudice of the country.
The known anti-illegal drugs crusader
In the 1980s and 1990s, Congressman Douglas Hagedorn was not even mayor of the City of Puerto Princesa; he was just one of the bagangay chairmen of the city. In 1986, with the emergency of the revolutionary government of President Corazon Aquino, he became chairman of the Puerto Princesa Association of Barangay Councils, making him an ex-officio member of the City Council, the beginning of a career that made him the longest-serving barangay chairman of the city.
It was in this capacity that he started his legendary career as an anti-illegal drugs crusader. In the early 1990s, he became the head of the Puerto Pincesa task force—Drugs Enforcement Action Division (DEAD)—to combat the proliferation of illegal drugs in the city.
He performed his job with distinction as his group eliminated the drug menace in his city in no time. So successful was the anti-drug campaign of DEAD headed by Douglas that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) declared Puerto Princesa a “drug-free city” in 1999. Douglas Hagedorn’s successful performance as an anti-drug crusader gained international recognition in the first convention of the Association of Asian Cities Against Drugs (ASCAD), in 2004, held in Melaka, Malaysia. So impressed was the group with his performance that he was elected vice president of ASCAD to take the lead in strategy formulation, implementation and oversee the activities resulting to amazing reduction of the illegal problem in many countries. ASCAD then was composed of about 30 countries committed to eliminate the drug problem in their cities.
So successful was the anti-illegal drug campaign of Puerto Princesa headed by Douglas that ASCAD held its second convention in the city in Oct. 2005, showcasing the effective anti-drug campaign of the city. It became the model of the anti-drug campaign in many cities in Asia and other parts of the world.
This performance of Douglas in the local and international levels merited the recognition of his city, citing him as the “Most Outstanding Barangay Chairman of Puerto Princesa City” in 2005 and as the “Most active member of the City Council,” having authored and passed the most number of ordinances of the city in 2006.
His achievements culminated in his election to the House of Representatives, representing the third congressional district of Palawan. In the House he was more known as an environmentalist exponent rather than an anti-drug crusader—more intense and more uncompromising than Senator Loren Legarda. I have seen this at a distance and at very close range, and what I have seen is quite impressive.
No serious study on the national level
I have not heard or read any national study on the best approach to solve the overwhelming drug menace in the Philippines. Once upon a time, it was successful in Puerto Pincesa City under the able leadership of Douglas Hagedorn, the then-head of the task force to combat the menacing drug problem of his city in his capacity as barangay captain and ex-officio member of the City Council and as ABC president. This was on a micro level. Whether it could work on a macro level, I don’t know; the formula is probably patented, but I did not bother to ask him about it.
Maybe President-elect Duterte or the PDEA or both should consult Congressman Douglas Hagedorn to learn about his formula. Maybe it could work on the national level, who knows. Nothing is lost by consulting him; the only thing lost is time. But if the formula works, all the time in the world can compensate for it.
One thing I learned from Douglas: he terminated the operation and activities of 350 drug lords, drug manufacturers, drug distributors and drug pushers without a single one killed. Not one of his friends who had flirtations with illegal drugs was spared from the clean-up drive. He got their cooperation without killing them. That’s quite an achievement! Chito Gascon, of the Human Rights Commission, should look into this and give Douglas a human-rights medal, in appropriate ceremonies.
Of course, after Douglas left the city administration, there is a resurgence of the drug problem in Puerto Princesa City. Some of the culprits are known friends of the current city administration. But this recent development does not diminish or detract from the fact that the Douglas Hagedorn formula worked. As of now, neither Douglas nor his brother Edward is a friend of the current city administration; they are their sworn opponents.
A striking contrast is the much-touted achievement of President-elect Duterte as Mayor of Davao City. The claim is that Duterte has cleaned up Davao City of the drug problem at the expense of 1,700 lives killed without due process—which is the heart of the constitutional process—and in denigration of the human rights of the victims. But the cleanup is not really complete because as late as two weeks ago national media reported that five notorious characters, who had been involved in illegal drugs in Davao City, were killed by you-know-who. So they are still there!
With Douglas, human rights and due process were religiously observed—painstaking but effective. With Rodrigo, the success was credited to the Davao Death Squads (DDS), which the opponents of Rodrigo claim to be associated or masterminded or operated by Rodrigo.
It is a study in contrast—Douglas’ formula is democratic, Rodrigo’s is dictatorial. Take your pick, the people of this country. In my humble observation, though, the most loud and vociferous members of the population are pro-Rodrigo. They have become the masters of the kill, kill, kill formula of their idol. They should all be reminded of the warning of the well-respected critic of Adolf Hitler, Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote once in the darkest days of Hitler’s Germany something to this effect: “When Hitler prosecuted the communists, Germans did not protest because they were not communists. When Hitler persecuted the socialists, Germans did not protest because they were not socialists. When Hitler persecuted the Jews, Germans did not protest because they were not Jews. And when Hitler persecuted the Germans, there was no one left to protest.” Very unnerving, isn’t it?
Rodrigo was elected with a resounding vote unheard of in presidential elections, Douglas lost his re-election bid by massive vote-buying, overwhelming terrorism, thousands of flying voters and unprecedented cheating by some local Comelec officials and school teachers and other public officials. Public perception is that the election offenses were orchestrated by his unknown opponent with the solid backing and limitless millions of pesos of the Palawan import from Cagayan de Oro City, Governor Pepito Alvarez, known also as JCA in Palawan. The case is now with the Comelec. Let’s see how Comelec resolves it.