For this issue I originally plan to write about the controversial debate over the burial of President Marcos’ corpse at Libingang ng Mga Patay. Since the matter is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, I deem to comment instead on the current “war on drugs” launched by President Duterte. I am an active member of global cyber forum among expatriate Filipinos and let me share the exchange of laments between former Senator Rene Saquisag, MABINI Lawyer, and I. Below is an excerpt of our series of eMail exchanges:
Sent: August 27, 2016 2:16 PM
To: Bob Gabuna
Subject: How bad is the Philippine drug problem? Will it take a bad president to eradicate drugs in RP?
The War Against Poverty is a War Against the Poor. He who has little in life should have nothing in law. No exclusive plutocratic enclave has been raided, with a body count. Kin of the dead cannot even make tubos in the puneraryas.
Digs said he’d kill one Tsinoy linked to the trade; instead, he was welcomed in Malacanang. Up to now, no case reports that PL had been charged or salvaged. A promise is a promise? No hardline bloody policy against drugs has succeeded anywhere in the world. Trafficking will continue even in brutal China for as long as big money is to be made.
And we should never give up the moral high ground by going down to the level of criminals, a cure worse than the disease. DECAY.
Dear Senator Rene V Saguisag:
I do not dispute your argument.
It is unfortunate a number of those that were killed by legitimate police carrying out their legitimate police operations, e.g., serving Warrant of Arrest, the pusher-user because of their demented mind, fought back the arresting officers.
The wealthy drug lords enjoying the obscene profits of their illicit drug trade do not bother peddling Shabu in the streets thereby exposing themselves to risks.
They let the impoverished underlings execute their criminal business do the fighting and the dying for them.
What does the law require regarding illegal drugs?
Isn’t the law explicit that a pusher-user or whatever they get arrested if caught possessing the illegal item in their body? Drug lords do not carry even fraction of a gram in their pocket. Drug lords, wallowing in wealth merely collect the money peddled by their vast peddlers, runners, and couriers – members of their complex network.
If they were doubled-crossed, or are threatened by their cohorts who decided to turn into new leaf that they might be reported to the proper authorities, these wealthy drug lords would hire an assassins to murder their lowly underlings, in turn the hired assassin is likewise murdered to protect the drug lord. The criminal drug lord have enough financial clout to pay off police generals, pay off the fiscals and the judges, pay off the governor, or the mayor or the congressman, and other high ranking government officials.
I think the view that the war against illicit drugs is a war against the poor is misapplied. To my mind, it is tragic the materially poor were the most number of those slain in drugs war because they are either killed in legitimate police encounters or were murdered by their criminal bosses simply because the lower ranks are largely a network of poor people.
The scions of wealthy people, however, which are into these criminal activities are too powerful for the legitimate poor law enforcer to pin down in Court. The arrested parties who are rich can afford to bribe the witnesses against them, the rich can afford to pay prominent defense counsel to keep on postponing the trial of their case, the rich have the ability to lure the judges and the fiscals and, yes, the police either to back out from pursuing the case, or drop the case.
President Duterte is going to build rehabilitation centres nationwide using the vacant lots in military reservations. The government of PRD offers assistance to those who are willing and ready to be rehabilitated.
But those who defy the law get the full force of the law – shoot and killed. I would prefer to see a criminal killed; than a legitimate officer slain by the criminal lords – poor man or rich man alike.
Senator Rene in terms of credentials in fighting illicit drugs, when I speak on this subject, I do not merely speak under my nose. I had a stint working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police help the federal police agency break up the Asian Gang in the late 90s. I know the modus operandi of the criminal drug lords.
Mind you, those involved in the criminal trade are not poor. Some of them are managers of established businesses, some are professionals: lawyers, educators, businessmen. The gang operates restaurants, independent stores, car rentals, repair shops. They have Hells Angels as their security and “musclemen”.
Hindi po biro ang maki pag giyera sa mga criminal syndicates – they are moneyed. To commit murder, to them is merely business. They have no moral scruples that stymie them in snuffing out the lives of their “business” rival.
It is unfortunate, the vast network of peddlers-users in the Philippines are materially poor from the conventional definition of poor. Pero, sa isang bentahan ng Shabu, libo-libo ang kinikita.
I have compassion to the poor. But I refuse to take the justification because they are poor they shall be “excused” from peddling illicit drugs? Do we suspend suspending a student that cheated taking the examinations because he or she is poor? Or, do we gloss over taking disciplinary action to a poor employee that had been stealing money from the till because he or she is poor?
PRD is not targeting the poor in his campaign against illicit drugs. He is after the criminals – rich, or poor.
Why would Digong name and shame Bobby Ongpin if he is partial to the rich? Why would he issue a warning to big establishments that their businesses might be shut down if they continue abusing the poor applicants by circumventing labor laws? Why would the President warn the ultra-rich that if they fail to settle their back taxes to the government that they too will have their comeuppance if they continue with impunity to defy the law?
My take Senator Rene, is: those elements that used to manipulate the government bureaucracy for years had misusing and abusing their financial clout by making elected Presidents tando-tando (subservient). But in these days, with the ascendancy of Digong, they could no longer continue plying their trade by making the Filipino People uto-uto.
Because the rest of the world failed in their fight against illicit drugs, does it mean we too will succumb to the failure of Mexico, U.S.A., West Africa, Thailand, and elsewhere? Indeed, we will fail if we will not resist the evil doing of the criminal lords who are now lording over our birth land.
It is about time – it’s been long coming – the Filipino People take the front seats and let Digong handle the wheel of the passenger car and let him drive safely to the next destination.
Damn the infringement of unelected foreign bureaucrats interfering in the internal affairs of the Philippines. That U.N. Rapporteur, she is not U.N. Is she waving a U.N. Resolution passed by the General Assembly duly approved to chastise and condemn President Duterte?
Senator Rene, the Philippines is no longer a subservient country. That finally we found a national leader who is not cowed by threats of assassination, neither the threat of impeachment; but, is endowed with conviction and boldness to speak for truth and defend the country from the filthy lucre of criminal lords: drug lords, smuggling lords, and gambling lords.
The moral ascendancy we can hold is to affirm the war against criminals, war against corrupt government bureaucrats and elected officials, war against foreign interference. We must destroy the agents of decay to build a clean and harmonious society.
War, any kind or form of war is always messy, bloody, and highly alarming. It is the nature of the war. The protagonists get shoot, stabbed, maimed, or slain.