POSTSCRIPT / September 17, 2017 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Partisans can’t see the rainbow

WE FIND it difficult devising a holistic approach to the narcotic scourge, because of our increasingly partisan perspectives. Many of us have started to see the world only in black and white, devoid of shades of gray and color.

We have not gone color blind totally, but many of us refuse to see the rainbow in our common sky. And many partisans see nothing but yellow in whatever they despise.

Question the on-the-spot execution of drug suspects and you are tagged pro-narcotics. Express alarm over the pile-up of Tokhang victims, and you are slapped down as having no right to criticize unless you had made similar comments against the previous administration.

Some partisans refuse to see that one can support a campaign against narcotics while criticizing President Duterte’s way of pursuing his drug drive.

In my Postscript last Sunday, I said: “Some quarters demand a stop to the drug war on account of the runaway execution of apparently innocent bystanders. We beg to disagree. Despite its shortcomings, the war against drugs should not stop. On the contrary, it should be pressed relentlessly.”<>

Upon seeing that part, a reader shot back: “Your conclusion that the drug war itself must continue despite all of the foregoing contradictions defies logic itself. You can see the damage it has caused to innocents. You can see how policeman have been incited to reckless violence by the president. And still you support this campaign?!!”

Apparently, when he read my “… the war against drugs should not stop,” his world switched to black and white — and he missed my succeeding paragraphs:

“What is needed is a rethinking, a reprogramming. The one-dimensional (kill, kill, kill!) program must be multi-dimensional to cover all aspects, each problem area given proportional emphasis. The action-plan must then be multi-pronged.

“Wipe away the blood, take the campaign out of its narrow police context and review it from a holistic perspective that includes its socio-economic and public health ramifications. In short, take it out of the Davao template.”

Reminds me of a tweeter who asked me, since I am critical of the extrajudicial killing of (presumed innocent) suspects, to give my alternative program. In 140 characters on Twitter?

Maybe I should have simply repeated “…take (the program) out of the Davao template,” but that could have provoked demands for elaboration. Good that Mark Cruz‏ @markcruze999 butted in with: “Just follow the law. There are existing laws that deal with illegal drugs.”

• An ‘idiot’ offers practical remedies

REMEMBER those “For Dummies” guides for almost anything? Well, Cebuano reader Clarence Paul V. Oaminal, who depreciatingly calls himself “Ang boang nga abogado sa Sugbo,”  shares some “idiot’s” ideas on drugs.

He said “we have to be idiots to truly know what is happening in our country.” He recalled that the last time he wrote a memo to the President on March 19, 2010, he was dismissed from the Dangerous Drugs Board.

His letter to us at 1,120 words is even longer than my column, so we’ll just cull from it:

“Why do we focus our anti-drug operations on the streets? Killing street pushers and seizing sachets of shabu when these drugs and their essential chemicals are imported? The battleground should be in our international seaports and airports. If there are drugs in our streets it means that our men guarding our ports fucked up.

“In Cebu weeks ago, 5 million kilos of garbage passed Customs in our international port. In 2004, P3.6 billion worth of pseudoephedrine was shipped from China through the Cebu International Port. In December 2009, 16 kilos of cocaine were seized in the Port of Sasa, Davao City. These cases illustrate how lax is our port security. The President must make District Collectors answer for this serious neglect of duty.

“To fight drug smuggling, here are the Idiot’s recommendations:

“1. The President must order Customs to physically inspect all container vans entering international ports. ‘Table or paper inspection’ should be avoided, we should not believe in the so-called papers of the port of origin. PDEA agents must be in every international seaport and airport to assist in narcotics interdiction. This is especially so for containers declared as empty. Aside from x-ray, canine must assist in the checking.

“2. International airports must conduct x-ray and canine inspection of all in-bound cargo, especially those consigned to private couriers. The present practice is that these couriers retrieve directly their cargoes without inspection as what is examined are passenger luggage/boxes. We are so stupidly distracted to be happy with seizing 2 or 3 kilos of cocaine or shabu at the airports but fail to intercept the 20 or 30 kilos of shabu that goes directly to the private forwarding couriers.

“3. The President must establish in every region the Seaport and Airport Narcotics Security Council composed of PDEA, Customs, PNP, Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority and Immigration. Aside from incoming chemicals, chemists (usually from China) should be targeted. The PDEA Compliance Service must be thorough in preventing chemical diversions (essential chemicals like ephedrine are ingredients for medicines) that instead of being used as medicines are used for making shabu. There should be accountability.

“4. We should stop blaming police officers for the drug problem, but their corrupt leaders who can afford influential lawyers and run to their padrinos.

“5. Despite the strong stand of the President in the drug war, we are losing on the legal front. Some 80 to 90 percent of drug cases are being dismissed. Our criminal justice is fucked up because of unethical lawyers, corrupt judges and prosecutors. Cases are compromised at their levels.

“6. The battle against illegal drugs will never be won in the streets, but ultimately in our homes. Our duty should be as shepherds of our children and the guardians of our homes.

“7. Finally, we would still fail if we continue to put our trust only in men but not in God.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 17, 2017)

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