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THE death of five people attending an open-air concert at the parking lot of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City last weekend underscores the big problem of drugs in the country today, a problem which President-elect Duterte has vowed to eradicate in three to six months.
It may not be possible to achieve this goal in so short a time, considering the magnitude of the problem, but we look forward to the all-out war that the incoming president is expected to mount as soon as he takes his oath of office. It was for this promised war on drugs that he first won national attention. He alone, among the candidates, dared to take on this problem that has taken such monstrous proportions.
In 2015, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that 8,629 barangays (20 percent of the total number of barangays in the country) had reported drug-related crimes. The PDEA carried out 13,596 anti-drug operations, including the dismantling of laboratories manufacturing methamphetamine, or shabu, the most widely trafficked drug in this country. The PDEA made 10,868 arrests in these operations.
Aside from shabu, the PDEA also seized marijuana which is grown in mountainous regions in Luzon and Mindanao, cocaine, the drug ecstasy, and smaller amounts of synthetic drugs and even some pharmaceutical drugs which have become popular among some addicts. In the death of five people at the Pasay City parking-lot concert last Saturday night, two from massive heart attacks, the National Bureau of Investigation suspects a combination of food, drinks, and drugs as the cause of the fatal attacks.
The drug situation in the Philippines has drawn considerable international attention. A US State Department report last March said the biggest source of methamphetamine in the Philippines today is China, smuggled in by Chinese crime groups. Mexican shipments are beginning to come in. And an increasing number of West African syndicates have been bringing in drugs, some of which is distributed forward throughout Southeast Asia.
But it is the growing drug problem among common ordinary people all over the country, in squatter areas, especially among the youths, that greatly concerns incoming President Duterte. In his speech at the commencement exercises last month at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, where he graduated in 1968, he said, “Talagang galit ako sa drugs. Forget the laws of death. Kalimutan mo muna yang Revised Penal Code. Kalimutan mo muna ang mga fiscal, judge.
Let us go by the divine equation of justice, karma.”
It may be extremely difficult for President-elect Duterte to achieve his goal within his self-imposed deadline. But he will surely try and the nation’s heart is with him in this great – hopefully, not impossible – mission.