• EDITORIAL

    Renewed illicit drug trade a mockery of governance

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    THE reported resurgence of the illegal drug trade behind the walls of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City not only underscores once again the immensity of the problem but certainly makes a mockery as well of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government.

    It mocks the war on illegal drugs, it mocks the efforts of both Houses of Congress to come up with an appropriate legislation after all those highly publicized hearings last year. It mocks the judicial system as it reveals the power and influence of these drug lords serving jail sentences over corrupt government officials, and all but invalidates their conviction and incarceration.

    President Rodrigo Duterte minced no words in labeling the Chinese as the primary traders of illicit drugs. They are the ones pulling the strings from within their detention cells, using cell phones to activate their couriers outside.

    Any enterprise, including the illicit drug trade, thrives on one of the most fundamental concepts and pillars of a free market economy—supply and demand. Which then begs the question: Where do these Chinese drug lords get their supply of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride?

    Is shabu being cooked in clandestine laboratories within the New Bilibid Prisons walls that the authorities have yet to discover?

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported in 2009 that lab operations in East and Southeast Asia “are often significant industrial-sized operations, which have grown in sophistication over the last few years. While manufacture has been reported in many countries, operations in China, Myanmar and the Philippines account for most of the production.”

    “The Philippines remains a significant source of high-potency crystalline methamphetamine (‘shabu’) used both domestically and exported to locations in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania. Manufacture often occurs in industrial-sized laboratories operated by transnational organized crime with most chemists being foreign nationals,” the report noted. It said that shabu was the “most used” illicit drug in Cambodia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

    But in the 2012 World Drug Report, the UNODC said the manufacture of the drug had evolved and had become concentrated mainly in China, Myanmar and the Philippines.

    Since the resurgence of the drug trade, run by Chinese drug lords, inside the prison walls, happened obviously under the very noses of prison officials and the Special Action Force troops tasked specifically to make sure the illicit drug trade was kept under check, the situation has indeed left many, including President Duterte, in a quandary.

    The next obvious move is for the government to put a stop to this mockery. Those drug lords must be stopped from peddling drugs while in prison, from preying on drug couriers who take on the risks involved in transporting millions of pesos worth of illegal drugs for P2,000 per delivery.

    Eventually, the victims are those on the demand side—the end users who, according to the US-based National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), take drugs to feel good, to feel better, to do better, and out of curiosity.

    “Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in patients recovering from addiction,” according to a 2014 NIDA primer on drug abuse.

    The drugs lords have no sense of shame, or guilt or remorse. They prey on the vulnerability of those individuals who in a moment of weakness give in to the momentary pleasure of a chemical-induced high.

    There is no question about who the real victims are in this charade of drug lords serving sentences behind bars. They have to be stopped from continuing this illicit trade that mocks the very essence of our public governance while destroying the lives of millions of Filipinos.

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