If the policy is still ‘Kill,’ start with smugglers and manufacturers

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Marlen V. Ronquillo

SHABU does not miraculously drop into the hovels of poverty for distribution by those desperate souls that look the part. It finds its way into, say, the dark alleys of Caloocan City, from a circuitous route that probably starts from China, or Taiwan – or a foreign source. The tattooed, desperate young men with dry skin, hollowed-out red eyes, and mostly wearing basketball jerseys, both trade and consume the stuff with no idea where the dangerous and toxic killer comes from.

Of course, it comes from somewhere. The drug business may be a certified harbinger of death and destruction – but it is also governed by the dynamics of the supply chain like most commodities traded. There is also enormous profit from it.

The raw material is smuggled through our ports of entry or via our porous borders. It goes into the local labs for processing. And from the various documentary evidence gathered by the authorities, Chinese or Taiwanese nationals control both the smuggling of the materials and the processing into the finished, dangerous product. The hopeless young men dealing and consuming shabu in the hovels of poverty and desperation do not even have the remotest idea on how shabu drops into their eager paraphernalia.

Shabu is a syndicated operation. And the syndicate leaders are men without conscience. Because their business involves the harming and the killing of multitudes, only the vicious and the ruthless can be at the head of the supply chain .


The Espinosas and the Parajinogs, if indeed they were deep into the shabu trade as the police have alleged, were just at lower end or at the middle of the drug supply chain and never the principals.

Those behind the smuggling are, then the processors at the labs. Without these shadowy characters, the drug problem would not be at its current scale and scope. Without these syndicates, the drug trade would have been a penny-ante operation and not a national emergency.

Post Kian, the anti-drug war of Mr. Duterte needs a rethinking. The gung-ho policemen who kill randomly and recklessly, with the innocent as collateral damage, should not be at the forefront of the drug war, but the component of law enforcement with the least participation.

Who will have to lead a reformed war on drugs? Intelligence people who have to stop shabu at the source. China, Taiwan, wherever. Or, at the ports of entry. The war on drugs should be based on intelligence, not bullets, not policemen being egged on to kill and emboldened by the tough words of our leaders.

The Senate inquiry on the P6.4 billion worth of shabu that easily slipped into a warehouse in Valenzuela from the express lane of the Port of Manila provides the compelling rationale on why intelligence, not reckless killing, should be the anchor of the reformed drug policy.

From China, there was a trail. Yet, the fixers of that shabu shipment made the slip as easy as brushing in the morning. Despite the hard rule that a first-time importer should not be allowed to get his or her shipment processed at the express lane, the fixers – and the tara – made that express lane processing possible. A shipment from China as heavy as 12 sacks of rice should have aroused suspicion and scrutiny. Because it was a pre-arranged shipment with probably millions of pesos in grease money involved, a cursory check was not even done.

It was that P6.4-billion shipment and previous shipments of that magnitude that have been sustaining the shabu supply in the country. The desperate souls in the dark alleys of Caloocan City do not even have the slightest idea on where the toxic chemical that further trouble their drug-addled brains come from. They get it from runners who may be drug users like themselves. But the runners get it from middlemen who are too low in the supply chain.

Stop the major suppliers and the shabu that will be in domestic circulation will not be even enough for the addicts of the Camanava area.

Will Mr. Duterte, who has now tempered his anti-drug rhetoric, order a rethink? He will have to.

One more tragic death like the death of Kian will plunge the anti-drug war into uncertain territory. What held before—which was the near-unanimous approval of the anti-drug war—would flip into a real and lasting sense of public outrage. The kind of outrage the DU30 administration cannot afford. Of course, the bloggers who are DU30 die-hards will protest and say otherwise. But it will.

The police officers who get high from the kill and get monetary and psychic rewards on the side have to be tempered.

There is a time to kill. And there is a time to hold the fire.

Now, it is time to hold the fire and rethink the entire anti-drug strategy. If “Kill” is still the policy, start with the smugglers and processors.

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