Duterte reveals that the war on drugs is bigger and badder than we thought

And we thought we knew how big our drug problem was.

In a press conference held yesterday in Malacanang Palace, President Rodrigo Duterte unraveled a large map detailing the connections of personalities involved in the illegal drug trade in the Philippines. It’s another shocking revelation for many Filipinos. We always knew our country had a problem with illegal drugs, (Which country doesn’t anyway, right?) but have we imagined that it would be this big?

The Office of the President has yet to release the full chart showing the drug rings embedded in our society but just by looking at it, it seems to be both terrifying and assuring. Terrifying because there are people who are involved in the drug trade whom we thought never were. Case in point, the 5 PNP Generals named by the President himself. At the same time, it feels assuring to see this map as it gives a face and an idea of how big the illegal drugs problem is. It’s no longer a mystery to us, and we now know who are involved and how extensive the connections are.

Why only now?

In a debriefing with the media led by Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) after the above mentioned press conference, many questions arose. One of the queries that caught the attention of Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was this: “Did previous government officials [ Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)] know about this?” Aguirre’s response was cautious, they may or may have not known, but one can easily surmise that both agencies may have had the information.

This generates a whole new bag of questions like: Bakit ngayon lang? Why was this not exposed to the public before? If both DILG and DOJ knew about this, then why wasn’t there any information-dissemination on this problem? What did the Aquino administration do about this?

It is quite a revelation actually, if taken as an afterthought, to see that this massive illegal drug trade was happening right under the nose of the previous president. And not that we blame him for it. It is just shocking to know about it. Even his most trusted men in the police force, whom he had given his trust, have dipped their left hand in the drug trade while offering their right hand to the then president?

Well, it is up to the justice system to decide on the fate of these five generals, but at the very least, this crackdown on illegal drugs is leading somewhere significant. Imagine all the primetime news stories about pushers and addicts getting killed by police but never actually getting to the drug lords themselves? Some people speculate that the drug killings are just a decoy. Those who get killed by the police are all but petty drug peddlers and shabu sniffers. Small packets of shabu are found in their pockets, and then the police officers being interviewed on TV would say that it was because the suspects fought back. With what? A balisong?

PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa himself said that he knows what some policemen are doing. They are on a killing spree to end the lives of their assets and small time peddlers in the drug rings, fearing that they might squeal about the involvement of some police officials in the illegal drug trade.

Well it’s too late now. The President himself caught the big fishes. Without the power and influence of the so-called “protectors”, now that they’ve been named in public, the rest of the personalities connected in the drug rings will start to wither. Kill the queen mother alien, and you kill the spawns.

The China connection

Well, you can’t really kill the “queen mother” nor end drugs totally, but we do know that the main source of illegal drugs come from China. For those who’ve been awake in their history classes, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Ever since the Opium Wars, China has been the source of illegal drugs in so many countries. Imagine, France and England waged a war in China just for the sake of opium. It became an addiction in Europe and made people rich. That’s why the British could not easily surrender Hong Kong, the so-called black spice was too precious to give up.

Now, synthetic drugs like shabu are being imported in enormous quantities to the Philippines. One clear example is what happened four days ago in Cagayan, where 180 packs of shabu amounting to PhP900 million was unearthed in a farm. Most likely, they were imported according to police officials with the unconfirmed source probably coming from nearby Taiwan or China.

Again, it should come as no surprise. China has been one of our longest trading partners, even before the Spaniards came. It is great to be a close neighbor to one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful economy in the world. But the underside of this relationship is losing the West Philippine Sea bout and this illegal drugs issue. It seems that China has this negative attachment to illegal drugs in the same way that the United States has a negative attachment to guns.

Narco-politics is real

The word narco-politics has yet to be included in the dictionary but the definition of this term can be deduced from “narco” or narcotics, meaning illegal drugs, and how it influences politics. Duterte has cited Mexico several times as being a narco-state, where drug cartels are able to highly influence national politics and the government. The New York Times has already weaved the sad story of the 2014 Iguala kidnapping that left 6 dead and 43 missing. Until now, Mexico is waging a war against drugs and has still failed to eradicate it totally.

And the Philippines is close to being a narco-state as well, Duterte says. But back in February, PDEA denied that narco-politics is happening in the country. A report from the Manila Times noted that “Public Information Office (PIO) chief Glen Malapad said they do not have hard evidence against top government officials who are said to be involved in the drug trade.” Is that so? So why is it that Duterte is able to present something to the public now? Perhaps our current President has better intelligence units, lest there was something we all do not know about.

But everything is out in the open now. Even the names of mayors and politicians involved in the drug trade are about to be uncovered. Some say it was wrong to reveal or name names in public but I surmise that Duterte is doing this for one very practical reason – if ever he dies out of this crackdown on drugs, at least the public knows who to go after.

It is but right that the President should tell the people everything he knows because his fight will be the fight of every citizen. There is no place for illegal drugs in our country. We are not and will never be a narco-state.