True to his campaign promises, President Rodrigo Duterte continued his public identification of government officials who are allegedly involved in the drug trade.
On Sunday morning, the President read a long list which included several local government officials—incumbent and former mayors, congressmen, provincial board members, and several members of the judiciary. The public identification of these officials happened during the early morning hours which made for a hearty breakfast for all law-abiding Filipino citizens. While the majority basked in the warmth of this new experience of a politician delivering immediately and effectively on his campaign platform, a noisy few again mouthed off protestations based on legal principles that should be used, in principle, to safeguard the innocent.
Never mind that these noisy protests are emanating from a particular group which lost badly last elections despite their anointed’s obvious incapability to address the alarming drug situation in the country which had been an open secret during their time at the helm.
Make no mistake about it: The drug industry is not in the business of merely giving pleasurable sensation. The victim does not just get “high.” These illegal drugs damage the very core of one’s being such that a user is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. A user will not exhibit any compunction in committing heinous crimes such as rape with homicide and murder when under the influence of drugs. The user is also compelled by his addiction to commit petty crimes just to finance his habit. The illegal-drugs business here in the country has been very successful in glamorizing its image, associating use to high society and glitz just to mask its ugly effects on society.
Drugs have been a significant component of crime in the country. Of the total crime incidents reported in the country, the PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management estimates that about 40 percent are street crimes and 34 percent are drug-related cases. An even more alarming study conducted by the Dangerous Drugs Board revealed that a staggering 80 percent of heinous crimes committed are drug-related. Let me reiterate that between 60 percent and 80 percent of our inmates are inside our prisons because of drug-related offenses. Most cases of rapes happen due to the illegal use of drugs.
Those protesting the public identification of drug coddlers and protectors do not seem to know the gravity of our drug problem. According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are approximately 1.3 million drug users in the country. At a low estimate of P100/day, the profits from the illegal drugs trade would be P130 million/day which would translate to almost P4-billion profits per month. This amount is certainly more than the annual profits of the largest companies operating in our country, including multinational companies.
The amount involved is staggering and can be used to buy the protection of the whole bureaucracy. Let me reiterate that our drug problem has been an open secret for so long. How can one explain the mansions, expensive watches, million-peso fleet of cars, and multiple vacations abroad of our public officials when we all know that under our present Salary Standardization Law, the highest monthly salary is just P120 thousand/month which belongs to the President?
The values of our society have been warped for so long that society pages celebrate expensive tastes of our public officials with no other known sources of income other than the protection that their positions can provide the illegal drugs trade. I say that it is high time that this problem is recognized publicly at the highest echelons of power in our country. The time has finally come that hedonistic lifestyle as a result of illegal activities is described as shameful. The time has come that the impunity which is afforded to public officials who profit from the illegal drugs trade and openly exhibit their ill-gotten lifestyle is changed to public embarrassment. We should all learn that the other side of the coin for accumulating drug-related wealth is shame and not adulation.
I say that the President’s public shaming of government officials involved in the illegal drugs trade is the best use of the presidential immunity from suit in our history.