Recent drug busts of cocaine, shabu and ecstasy have once more brought focus to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
An 18-year-old La Salle student, Prabhjot Gill, an Indian national, was recently busted for 223 ecstasy tablets worth P334,500 at a condominium building just beside the university.
Police said he was a major ecstasy distributor in Metro Manila and some parts of Central Luzon and his market consisted mainly of students.
Ecstasy is very popular among young people who love to go to dance clubs.
Last February, a police raid of a cock-fighting farm in Lipa City netted 84 kilograms of shabu and three affiliates of the deadly Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa were arrested.
Sinaloa is one of Mexico’s most powerful organized crime groups and its presence in the Philippines should be enough cause to worry. It is also proof that the country has become a major transit point for drugs. We have many large ports and many islands and unguarded waters where drugs can be imported and exported quite easily.
In Davao City, for instance, police are still looking for the missing cocaine bars believed to be part of the 64 cocaine bars that were stitched at the ceiling of an empty container van inside the banana firm Sumifru container yard in Tibungco District.
Each cocaine bar costs about P6 million at one kilo each.
Surely the container owned by Maersk company came from somewhere, was contracted and paid for and passed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) through the effort of syndicates.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also believes the discovery of cocaine bars is proof the country must be a transit point for drugs in neighboring countries in Asia.
Efforts on public awareness, mass education and grassroot advocacy against the use of illegal drugs may have curbed the demand for illegal drugs and yielded commendable results in terms of arrests and the prosecution of some drug dealers, but it has really not deterred drug traffickers and the major drug dealers from engaging in the drug business. With billions in profits involved, drug dealing would always be perceived as well worth the risks by criminal elements.
We need the anti-drug agencies, NGOs and civil society groups, even the media, to help devise a more effective tool in the anti-drug war. We need to change attitudes and help reorient young people who may be attracted by the drug business because of the money involved.
As far as law enforcement is concerned, we need to support the non-corruptible elements in our police force and justice system so they will not shrink from asserting their authority to arrest, prosecute, and sentence drug dealers. Those “straight” policemen untouched by the temptations of the drug trade deserve to know that their hard work in arresting drug dealers would lead to obtaining convictions; that they will result in the incarceration of the offenders.
Unfortunately, there are other realities in the anti-drug war. We know that our security institutions are not as strong. Our justice system is not as incorruptible. And perhaps because of the wrong value system, more people, especially young people, are lured by the immediate and huge profits promised by the illegal drugs trade.
I’ve found in our almost two decades of anti-illegal drug advocacy in the Citizens DrugWatch Foundation that most drug dealers are getting some sort of backing and support from accomplices in government, be it at the law enforcement level, in the justice system, or even from certain local or national officials. This explains their rather resilient spirit to continue their illicit trade, sometimes even after they are caught and prosecuted.
There are bad eggs in the anti-drug agency and in the courts. This makes it all the more important for the honest policemen and prosecutors to be supported.
A lot of times, policemen are blamed for not doing enough and even conniving with drug dealers. When the honest cops in the force do something, they deserve support, especially from the justice system.
Obviously, policemen are not judges and prosecutors who can determine cases on the point of law or based on constitutional provisions. They cannot mete out punitive measures in reference to relevant laws. So there must be an intensified collaborative effort between agencies like the PDEA, the justice system and even the anti-drug groups, to be successful against illegal drugs. There should be no sacred cows if the anti-drug war must be a success.