Dawn of Sunday saw the peaceful facade again pierced by the roaring of a leader finally reading the names from a so-called validated list. This is not the first time I saw in my lifetime someone read a list of names of personalities, individuals, elected and appointed; civilian and uniformed on the battle against illegal drugs in the country.
Sometime in the mid-1990s, a solon from Parañaque stood on the floor and bravely recited the Order of Battle of the then PNP on jueteng and illegal drugs. Roilo Golez fought so many fights of his life but when he stood single handedly to try to give the PNP a leg to pursue said battle, he got a lot of ridicule as being a lone rider against a very unpopular cause.
In the world of politics, known backers of illegal jueteng and illegal drug trades are open books. Illegal jueteng has been “legalized” with the Small Town Lottery, or STL franchise, handled by the PCSO. But the illegal drugs trade has persisted and grown by leaps and bounds. The Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes has stated that, “illicit drug trafficking in the Philippines remains difficult to bring to a halt due to new modus operandi and the involvement of persons of authority.” Clearly, what PRRD is doing is something long delayed and I am not talking about extrajudicial killings. No President has done serious battle on the illegal drugs trade front. No one has staked office and person to do battle. The national shaming is first and it may not be perfect as some are saying, but it has to start. And that should not be skipped in the process.
“Since 2010, drug syndicates [have]established small-scale laboratories and kitchen-type clandestine laboratories to lower the risk of detection of shabu production. From renting warehouses to be used as shabu laboratories, syndicates shifted to renting houses in exclusive subdivisions, condominiums and apartments. Medium-type to kitchen-type shabu laboratories have resorted to operations in posh villages and condominiums in order to further conceal their activities. Private properties are becoming the popular target of syndicates in manufacturing illicit drugs, mainly due to the lower risk of detection these locations provide.” And yet we failed to hear anything from the previous dispensation.
Here is now a President who takes the battle seriously because of the enormous infiltration and influence of the trade across the country. He lays on the lap of the public the real sad situation of the country. What has been hushed-hushed in families and communities is now out in the open. What constituents know about their elected officials, judges, police and their involvements in the illicit trade has now been confirmed. And there are many others not yet revealed, such as in NCR; old hands of the trade in Region 9, CALABARZON, among others.
All in 40 days, the fiber of Filipino society has been shaken hard by the man who stands before us and boldly calls out the names of these personalities. The Order of Battle has been replaced with Persons of Interest by the previous administration. Today, the list emanates from combinations of information: PNP, AFP, PDEA, NICA, etc. So what happens with the national roll call? Those named will have to prove themselves. But what is challenging here is that these are all public officials, so an administrative case is the first contact. The Ombudsman, DOJ and the CSC would have to team up in prosecuting those with probable cause.
The end goal should be politicians involved in drugs should be banned from holding elected/appointive office for life. From the supply side to the demand side, they breached public trust and destroyed the lives of those among their constituents. More so, they have allowed, or were themselves party to nefarious activities. No one should go scot-free because one is a politico.
We break narco-politics if political parties ensure that no monies enter their coffers and members associated with illegal activities are immediately delisted. It takes a strong political party to do so. You don’t name a reported coddler to be treasurer of your political party. You don’t close your eyes and not attend to illegal drugs trade just because you are running for the highest position of the country. Absent of which, it takes a Duterte to launch a revolution. Was due process set aside? I don’t think so. No arrest is being made yet. No cases have been filed since. But police and military escorts are to return to their mother units and private armies are to be dismantled. Gun licenses and permits have been canceled. Preventive and tactical moves.
The reality is such that, “due to the geological make-up of the country, the Philippines is being continuously used as a transshipment hub of illegal drug traffickers, both local and foreign. The vast shorelines of central and southern Philippines are suspected to be the landing and/or entry points of illegal drugs from China. Further, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) continues to be the preferred trafficking avenue for illegal drugs in small quantities from less than one kilo to multi-kilo transshipments by drug traders/drug mules.” The reality on the ground is that illegal drugs are dropped from international waters to bancas and are allowed to float on our waters to be picked up by locals. Or a company producing batteries packed with illegal drugs, and are sent to local destinations and sometimes exported. PRRD has not gone to these lengths yet but surely things will fall as the walls are being bulldozed daily.
Yes, change is here and we are facing a revolution of unbearable proportions. We need to be bold, too, for “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”