THE high trust and satisfaction ratings of President Rodrigo Duterte is not unexpected. Upon his assumption of office, Mr. Duterte hit the ground running as he waged war against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption.
Despite local and international condemnation, everything that comes out of his foul mouth resonates with the people, who expect a president to be strong and dedicated.
I attribute this to people’s frustration and disenchantment with former President Benigno Aquino III who promised change but did not deliver.
More than 3,000 individuals suspected of involvement in illegal drugs have been killed during the first 100 days of the Duterte administration. He has promised to eradicate the drug menace between three and six months. Now, he wants another six months, vowing to never end until the last pusher is killed.
The question is this: Will another six months really end the illegal drug trade? I don’t think so. It all boils down to the law of supply and demand. The drug cartels that already have made the Philippines a transshipment point in their worldwide drug operations can simply go underground and lie low for a while until they can resume their nefarious trade.
I have seen it all. When martial law was declared, President Ferdinand Marcos made an example of Kim Seng, who was publicly executed for dealing drugs. For about two to three years, drug syndicates and traders went underground.
They returned with a vengeance and reached exclusive schools like the Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda (Duterte’s former college), UP Diliman and even exclusive girls’ schools like Assumption, St. Theresa, Maryknoll, Holy Ghost, and St. Scholastica among others.
This reminds me: President Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa must tackle the drug problem in schools, public and private alike. The drug dealers and pushers will not stop so long as there’s demand.
I doubt whether the drug menace can be eradicated. Colombia, where most of the cocaine come from worldwide, has been fighting a war against drugs for the past 30 years but the menace lives today. It may have destroyed big cocaine cartels, but there are still so many smaller ones to contend with.
In Mexico, the illegal drug problem persists, giving birth to the headed Sinaloa, whose tentacles have penetrated the Philippines along with drug groups like the Chinese Triad and the West African cartel.
My gulay, even in the United States, the illegal drug menace persists despite the efforts of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The demand is there. In Europe, the Russian Mafia now controls the cocaine trade.
It’s a $100-billion industry worldwide that caters to both rich and poor.
I think President Duterte and the rest of his team should harmonize their campaign against illegal drugs with their economic agenda. As long as poverty and joblessness remain the two biggest concerns of government, there will always be a demand for illegal drugs.
The cost of shabu may have hit the ceiling of P25,000 per gram—it used to cost P1,000 to P2,500 before Duterte’s war on illegal drugs began. Still, the menace is there. How do you explain the daily killing of drug addicts who have become pushers?
I will not dwell on the advantages and disadvantage of the war against drugs. All I am saying is that it can only be diminished, never eradicated. If Duterte can do this, then for me that is good enough. The strongman Duterte already represents a big change from the lackadaisical and incompetent President Benigno Aquino III.
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In the wake of President Duterte’s expletive-laden tirades against foreign leaders and institutions, now comes Vice President Leni Robredo appearing like an angel (while Duterte looks like the devil) and calling on the President to tone down his language. She claims that the President’s expletives are risking the flow of foreign aid.
Santa Banana, the Vice President has even invited members of the United Nations and the European Union. That would certainly make her appear goody-goody, wouldn’t it? She is even blaming the President for the weak peso.
Robredo is beginning to sound like the critics of the Duterte administration. What is she up to? The President doesn’t need a member of his Cabinet as his critic. Is Robredo pushing for Plan B of the Yellows so she could take over if and when Duterte ends his presidency? What a hypocrite!
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The President wants entrepreneurs and traders to think like the Chinese, who succeed in business and actually dominate the Philippine economy. Frankly speaking, I cannot imagine Filipinos becoming like the Chinese. The difference is cultural.
The Chinese by culture are frugal and hardworking. They work from dawn to midnight and avoid the frivolities of Filipinos, who have adopted many of the ways of our Spanish colonial masters, like “fiestas” and conspicuous consumption. Santa Banana, the Chinese even work on Sundays.
I am referring to the old Chinese living in Binondo, who are unlike their children whom they have sent to American universities and are now living in Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village.They have become Filipinos.
One thing that Duterte perhaps didn’t know is that there’s a special council in Binondo among the affluent Chinese that is dedicated to help Chinese entrepreneurs financially. Chinese banks have an unwritten policy to grant the loans by the millions, who are known to be honest and with integrity.
I cannot forget what my late good friend, lawyer Leonardo Siguion Reyna, told me when he was a member of an executive committee of the Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. He got nervous when the bank would lend to some Chinese millions of pesos without collateral because that was a violation of banking laws.
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One of the most ludicrous remarks that ever came out of Malacañang was when presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters to use “creative imagination” in interpreting President Duterte’s statements. But media are not the business of imagining stories!
These spokesmen are doing the President a great disservice.