If the reports that the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel had set a foothold on the Philippines was bad, the most recent report that the Philippines has become the center of the world’s illegal drug trade is worse.
In fact, nothing could be worse than to know that the most brutal gangs operating in the world are now here. Or will be here soon.
As pointed out by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as well as the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, the location of the country makes it attractive for the global drug dealers to set up operations here, even if only as a transshipment port.
Also, the fact that the country is comprised of more than seven thousand islands means that smuggling is so much easier to get away with. With a coastline greater than the United States mainland, any type of water craft can land in the country without being noticed.
There is another reason why the Philippines has become so attractive to the global drug cartels.
More and more casinos are opening in the country in its bid to do battle with Macau as Asia’s gambling mecca. The more casinos, the easier it becomes to launder money.
There is no need to remind anyone that the world’s original gambling mecca, Las Vegas in the US state of Nevada, was once upon a time under the control of the Mafia, the organized crime network that traces its beginnings to Italy.
The Mafia (a.k.a. the Cosa Nostra) was more involved in gambling and prostitution, and the old time godfathers were said to be generally against involvement in the illicit drug trade.
This is where other, deadlier organized crime groups came to the fore, from the Japanese Yakuza to the Chinese Triads to the South American cartels, the huge profits to be made from the illegal drug trade invited the most vicious of them to try and gain control of the global industry.
There is one reason to believe that the drug rings can thrive in the Philippines.
Like it or not, our country is notorious for the graft and corruption that is endemic in government. Too many people in power are willing to do anything to generate income. The easy money to be made from the drug trade makes it extremely attractive to local and national government officials bereft of a conscience.
The government should seriously consider fighting fire with fire.
The country cannot afford to let narco-politics reign, especially at the national level. Against the global drug cartels attempting to set up permanent operations in the country, the government must engage them in an all-out war while they are still relatively weak.
The Philippines cannot afford to become another Colombia, or even a Mexico where the drug cartels are able to battle the national governments to a stalemate.
There is another reason why the government must win the war as early as possible is the country’s admittedly inefficient legal system. Since they will have all the money in the world once they have set up Philippine operations, the cartels will be able to afford the best lawyers that money can buy.
It would be infinitely better, therefore, if the drug cartels are totally obliterated. This way, there will be no parties for the high-priced lawyers to defend.