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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Solution vs. illegal drugs

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“Other countries with drug problems know that only with a holistic approach can they succeed which is prevention, drug enforcement, prosecution and, the most important of all, rehabilitation”

The Philippine National Police reported that during the almost five months since the new administration assumed office there were only 46 people killed in connection with the campaign against illegal drugs and the seizure of less than P10 billion pesos worth of illegal drugs, mainly shabu.

PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. compared this to the number of illegal drugs-related killings during the first five months of the Duterte administration when, Santa Banana, thousands had been killed!

This was so because everybody involved in the illegal drug trade, including drug users and drug addicts, had been the target of Dueterte’s war against illegal drugs.

At that time, there were estimates, my gulay, that there were some 7 to 8 million drug users and addicts nationwide!

According to the PNP, the number of drug users and addicts, mostly from the poor sectors, had gone down to some 5 to 6 million nationwide. But, that’s still a lot.

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Almost everyday, we read reports of “buy-bust” operations by the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Where are they coming from? I have only one guess. They are either smuggled through Customs or manufactured in some clandestine laboratories like the one discovered in Ayala Alabang.

Personally, if you ask me about Duterte’s “war” on illegal drugs, it was a total failure despite that culture of impunity that went with it for six years, with Duterte’s “kill, kill, kill” mandate to the police.

First of all, Santa Banana, Duterte launched his “war” against illegal drugs with only one thing in mind, “kill, kill, kill” — unaware that countries with the same problem saw the failure of any campaign against illegal drugs by simply killing those involved in illegal drugs.

Other countries with drug problems know that only with a holistic approach can they succeed which is prevention, drug enforcement, prosecution and, the most important of all, rehabilitation.

Why is rehabilitation the most important aspect of any campaign against illegal drugs?

It is, since the prevalence of illegal drugs is a matter of supply and demand: for so long as there’s demand for illegal drugs, cartels and syndicates will always be there to supply the demand.

In our case in the Philippines, since illegal drugs worldwide is a muli-billion dollar industry, there are always cartels and syndicates that will supply the demand.

And knowing how corrupt Customs is, smuggling illegal drugs, like shabu, is an easy task through Customs.

It is for this reason why in my earlier column on illegal drugs, I always emphasized the need for the country to build rehabilitation centers completely staffed and community-based, my gulay!

Why community-based? Because drug users and drug addicts need family support.

I was just thinking, it would do President Marcos Jr. well to build nationwide community-based drug rehab centers to minimize the illegal drug problem.

That could well be BBM’s legacy of his six-year term. He may not totally eradicate the problem of illegal drugs, but that could solve 50 percent of it.

• • •

When President Marcos Jr. assumed office five months ago, he broached the need to “right-size” the bureaucracy.

And he got support because there have been some government agencies that have become useless because of surpluses.

One government agency that has served its purpose, but has become useless is the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was created by then President Cory to run after the alleged hidden and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.

If we analyze what the PCGG has done all through the years, what they recovered cannot compare with what the PCGG has spent during all this time, running after the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.

In fact, if the Commission on Audit looks deep enough into the PCGG, it will find a lot of anomalies committed by PCGG commissioners.

They get double compensation contrary to law because, aside from their salaries, they also get compensated as PCGG nominees in some 30 sequestered corporations, which up to now the ownership of which has not been resolved because they are still pending in court.

Besides, what the PCGG is supposed to be doing can well be taken over by the Department of Justice. After all, almost all the cases brought to court by the PCGG against the Marcoses and their cronies have been dismissed.

Another government agency that has become totally irrelevant and outdated with the advancement of communication and information technology is the Movies and Television Review and Classification Board which was a creation of President Marcos Sr.

With a flick of a finger, we can access on our television screens any movie being shown worldwide.

Santa Banana, movie and TV networks worldwide already have their own classification and ratings.

Take for instance HBO and Netflix, can the MTRCB still give them ratings and classifications when they already have their movies rated and classified?

In other words, the MTRCB has become useless, but just a simple dumping ground of political proteges.

Insofar as the locally-produced movies and locally-produced programs are concerned, I am sure local networks are responsible enough to do their own ratings and classification.

My gulay, the MTRCB is not only useless but tends to overdo its own rating and classification.

I’m against news programs being classified and rated.

It’s stupid when news should be viewed by everybody. If news and news reports get rated and classified, we may as well also rate newspapers and radio news.

These are just the two government agencies that should be abolished, although I can cite more.

Mister President, when you broach the need for right-sizing the bureaucracy, you can well start with the PCGG and the MTRCB.

• • •

Unbelievable. Stranger than fiction.

These are just the words I can gather to describe what has been happening in the “fiefdom” of suspended Bureau of Corrections Chief Gerald Bantag.

But, Santa Banana, they do happen, as found out by BuCor Acting Chief Gregorio Catapang.

The best example of this “believe it or not” is the digging within the New Bilibid Prison area near the residence of Bantag that is supposed to be for Bantag and his friends — a 9-story deep swimming pool where Bantag, an avid scuba diver, and his friends are supposed to frolic, which is said to be the deepest swimming pool in the country.

But, according to Secretary Remulla, the diggings by Bantag were actually aimed at digging for the hidden Yamashita treasure.

Catapang also believes that a tunnel is being built by Bantag as a possible escape route for NBP inmates – for what purposes, we can only guess.

Bantag, in the meantime, is said to be attending the forthcoming preliminary investigation of the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid and of the reported “middleman” Cristito Jun” Villamor Palana.

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