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WHEN then Vice President Joseph Estrada was interviewed on a talk show, he made the astute observation that corruption is rooted in the family system.

Today, one generation later, as we witness the relentless war on drugs, bodies piling up and the police chief not knowing if the end of the war will mean a total wipeout of the menace, we are seeing the political side of family relationships in a totally different light. Even as we struggle to define “political dynasties” and degrees of blood and affinity in the event a new Constitution is worked out, we are also shocked at how certain “drug personalities” high and low operate oh so cozily within families.

A witness told a Senate hearing how her parents “remitted” sums of R50,000 a week to policemen who had seized shabu from users and drug dens, then delivered the loot to the couple for repacking before the packets would be back in the streets for sale. Tragically, husband and wife ended up in the morgue. In Leyte, a mayor who happened to be the father of a drug lord was described by police as his son’s protector.

When the mayor’s house was raided, three armed men were killed as they tried to take out the raiding team. Inside the house, the raiders found guns, drugs, and cash. In Quezon, a political family – including a former cabinet secretary, a sitting congressman, a governor, a mayor – urged a father-and-son pair within the clan to surrender after they were tagged as high-profile targets.

In Quezon City, a councilor tried to deliver a pretty speech by admitting he was a user. Announcing he was “going on leave” (instead of resigning), he decried, without anyone insinuating anything, how his brother the mayor was not his protector because he, the councilor named Hero, was the mayor’s protector. Protector of big brother’s reputation?

In his novel about Anna Karenina, a married woman who fell obsessively in love with a young officer – she ended it all by throwing herself under an oncoming train – Tolstoy wrote how all happy families are alike whereas every unhappy family is different in its own way. (Jullie Y. Daza)