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Monday, May 20, 2024

Another big shabu bust

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The war on illegal drugs waged by the Rodrigo Duterte administration starting from July 2016 and reached its crescendo around 2019 managed to rack up a record of sorts: more than 6,000 suspected drug traffickers and users shot dead by law enforcers who claimed their prey drew weapons and fought back when accosted in legitimate police operations.

Human rights groups here and abroad, however, insist the death toll in Duterte’s bloody war on drugs actually led to between 20,000 and 30,000 casualties.

This is the reason the former president now faces the prospect of arrest and trial for “crimes against humanity” before the International Criminal Court.

Did Duterte’s violent war on drugs lead to a substantial decrease in the nation’s problem with illegal drugs?

Not by a long shot, it would seem, as borne out by the recent seizure by law enforcers of a huge stash of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in Batangas province.

Initial reports from the police said the shabu or crystal meth were found loaded into a passenger van which was flagged down during a checkpoint at Barangay Pinagkurusan on April 15.

Investigators said the Parañaque City-bound vehicle came from Sta. Teresita town in Batangas. It was moving towards Lipa City when authorities asked its driver to pull over.

President Marcos Jr. stressed that the war on illegal drugs could in fact be launched without resorting to violent means.

He pointed out that while this is a big haul of shabu the government confiscated, “not one person has died, no gun was fired, nobody was hurt.”

The Chief Executive said he believes this should be the proper approach in the drug war, focusing on eradicating the entry of illegal drugs into the country and bearing down hard on the syndicates producing the illegal substances in secret laboratories.

The Marcos administration had earlier on declared the government would take a different view of the drug war.

In September 2022, in his first official visit to the United States, President Marcos Jr said he would be taking a “slightly different” approach in addressing the drug menace, with equal attention being given to the rehabilitation of drug dependents as part of an effort to address the demand side of the drug problem.

The Batangas seizure of a huge drug stash shows that diligent intelligence work by law enforcers and not sheer brute force alone will minimize the drug problem.

If we really want to make it disappear for good, then it should be a whole-of-society approach, with the police, LGUs and communities all doing their part.

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