The ‘drug problem:’ Unserious political attention to a serious issue

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IT has become fashionable, since the entry of Davao City Mayor and self-styled crime-buster Rodrigo Duterte into the presidential race, for politicians at all levels to liberally sprinkle their public comments with references to the “terrible” and “out of control” epidemic of illegal drug distribution and use, and the crimes that result from the lucrative illicit trade.

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Senator and presidential aspirant Grace Poe-Llamanzares, in her capacity as head of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, even went so far as to claim that politicians are funding their election campaigns with money from drug operations.

Although Mrs. Llamanzares offered little proof to back up that shocking accusation, at face value the charge is still not too hard to believe. Hardly anyone would argue that the problem of illegal drugs is not a serious issue; and the occasional high-profile drug-related arrest is confirmation enough of that, even if the problem may not be quite as dramatic as Senator Grace claims, it is still a source of corruption in many places.

We certainly do not intend to dismiss the seriousness of the illegal drug problem. Regardless of its scope, it is a destructive and thoroughly undesirable part of society, one that is extremely difficult to eliminate once it has taken root. Any government effort to address the problem – provided, of course, the approach is sensible and productive – is welcome, and deserves our full support.

And therein lies the source of some skepticism about the unexpected popularity of the topic among our political leaders and would-be leaders. If Mayor Duterte had not chosen to highlight his record of dealing with the drug problem in his city – a strategy that many observers see as uncivilized and largely ineffective – it is doubtful that his opponents and others would have shown such sudden interest.

This only makes the public doubt the sincerity of assertions by candidates that they will “fight illegal drugs.” The impression that is given by their making it the scandal du jour, even to the extent of declaring it, as a couple of political figures already have, the “most serious problem” facing the nation today, is that they will fight illegal drugs only so long as the public is paying attention. When a more interesting hot topic arises – and it will, sooner or later – and public attention is directed elsewhere, the illegal drug infrastructure and the people who are a part of it will once again be free to do as they please.

As futile as it may actually be to issue the challenge to our prospective leaders, we feel it is, nevertheless, our duty to put it on record for the sake of the people they ostensibly serve: The problem of illegal drugs, while probably not the country’s “most serious” problem, is by no means a trifling issue, and is not reduced in the slightest by grandiose declarations. No country has ever completely eliminated illegal drugs, and for one to claim to be able to do so within some arbitrary timeframe is dishonest and foolish. The countries that have made significant progress in reducing the drug problem, however – and there are many examples – have done so by implementing a broad-based, practical, humane and sustained long-term strategy that takes into account law enforcement and public safety concerns, public health issues, education, and supporting healthy families.

In short, the solution to reducing the proliferation of dangerous drugs and the economic and social burden they place on the nation requires a commitment to hard work. We sincerely hope that those who intend to lead this country after June 30 of this year understand that, and are willing to make that commitment.

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2 Comments

  1. asungot na pinoy on

    Elimination of drug smuggling problem is impossible to attain but beginning a program that eventually get this problem under control are desirable things that Duterte have in mind. Capital punishment is one of the deterrent that can be put in place, if the Congress can honestly say that they want to get the problem under control. Unfortunately, some of them are backed by drug smugglers and/or syndicates. The government should release those names and start charging them drug felonies.

    Philippines now is the biggest playground for drug smugglers, simply because we do not have a strong deterrent against these people doing this kind of business. Human Rights group also raising hell on how Duterte treats those kidnappers and drug smugglers. How about the rights of those VICTIMS? Commitment to hard work, as the author suggests, will not work either because drug smugglers convicted and serving life sentences in NBP continue with their trade, cooking SHABU and they feel more comfortable and safe because they are protected behind the walls. These type of people can no longer rehabilitated, and like Duterte said, feed them to the fish, so they may become bigger and healthier for consumption.

    It is true that 6 years of an administration is not enough to solve the problems that we are facing now. However, an effective program is in place and eventually works out smoothly. Like this present administration, it already identified plunderer politicians and people will hope and careful not to elect kurakot politicians anymore. However, here in the Philippines, anything can happen, because of many contributing factors that involved. The bottom line is-Walang sigurado sa buhay, ika nga!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS GRACE POE FOR TOPPING AGAIN IN LATEST LAYLO’S SURVEY AND PULSE ASIA SURVEY …WAY TO GO GRACE POE ….

    MAR ROXAS had five years to build that performance he wants
    to be known for. But he squandered it. In all those five years, first as
    secretary of Department of Transportation and Communications and then
    as secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas has
    nothing to show. He had everything at his disposal and yet he has no
    performance
    to boast about. He is Mr. Palengke .Mr. Semplang ,Mr. Kargador ,Mr.
    inom sa plato etc , still his survey REMAINS KULELAT ,never topnotcher
    in any survey .He is a certified incompetent ,want to be leader. He is
    allergic to all poor people ,marginalized ,old ,foundlings or orphaned
    people. He is a poor rich man without a backbone. Sorry roxas your money
    can’t buy a President position in the Philippines probably in your
    family business ,you can.

    MABUHAY GRACE POE ,JUST GO,GO AND FIGHT ,FIGHT THOSE EVILS .WE ARE JUST BEHIND YOU AND SUPPORTING YOU ALL THE WAY I N2016 .