ONE VOICE
Difficulty of a drug war-phase II
by Bingo P. Dejaresco

THE KILLING PART of a Drug War , though gruesome, is just a part of a very large and complex operation.

The way we read it, ” the killing of the lieutenant pushers and runners”, Part I of the process is really a “statement of purpose”. It is meant to show that the government means business and that there will be no sacred cows in this drug war.

Unofficially, about 2,000 people have been killed, 5000 arrested and over a millions users and pushers have surrendered. The figures may seem huge.

Contextually, however, the new figure of President Digong Duterte is that there are now actually 6 million drug users (mainly shabu) in the country. The horrifying drug war is , therefore, barely scratching surface.

But logic tells us the government cannot just kill 6 million addicts – that would be genocide worse than Hitler’s massacre of the Jews. Certainly , the government (as well) cannot afford to rehabilitate all 6 million of them.

Already, there are angry murmurs why people’s taxes should be used to rehabilitate drug addicts who have been responsible for 70% of the crimes committed here. Double jeopardy, they call that.

But government has no choice but to rehabilitate,Facetiously, the government may not have have enough bullets to kill 6 million addicts and their suppliers.

To our minds, the government is playing a strategic game plan in dealing with the menace.

It just announced that Part II of the Drug War is on. Government says- three things there- (a) take the fight to the big Drug Lords (b) rehabilitate those savable souls and (c) file appropriate charges versus the guilty.

We can sense that the drug-related killings will be reduced in Phase II-now versus Drug Lords primarily. Quality not quantity of dead bodies could be the order of the day.

The Phase I was probably meant as a “gulpe de gulat”- a scare tactic vs pushers and users. Now prices of shabu have almost doubled and the supply dwindling. Phase I is succeeding, therefore, in that both the demand (users) and the supply (pushers) have been effectively restrained.

And that for them – it is “no longer business as usual” from hereon.

Phase II aims to decapitate the head of the monster (Drug Lords), rehabilitate those who have resolved to change their ways and (c) mete justice on those who had already done their grievous share in damaging society by filing charges against them.

Phase I- was probably mainly “psychological warfare”- with the numerous dead bodies all tell tale signs to all and sundry that being involved in the drug trade will lead one to the grave or the hospital.

Phase II, we believe, is a far more difficult mountain to climb.

First -neutralizing the well-armed and connected Drug Lords demands a new level of sophisticated warfare, weaponry and resolve to carry out than just killing pushers and users.

Second, who among the over a million surrenderees would merit rehabilitation? Bigger question- where are the rehab hospitals and centers?

Third- are there enough drug courts and jails in the country to cater to these new convicts? As it is there is a already a frightening backlog in cases , shortage of courts and judges to start with. And just as well there is a grand lack of prosecutors.Quo vadis?

The third one is a grave concern because already as it is the Judiciary- an equal branch of a three parts in government- receives less than 5% of the entire Philippine national Budget (GAA). Last we heard the 2017 original Judiciary Budget though bigger than last year’s has been cut down by Congress during the latest budget deliberations.

The second concern of Phase II, at least, has some silver linings.

As revealed by Boholano Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco, San Miguel Corporation top man Ramon Ang has committed P1.0 B and foreign donors another P 4.7B to construct rehabilitation centers nation wide.

Reportedly, the government has also set aside 2 hectares at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija (country’s largest military reservation) to set up a major Rehab Center funded by (of all nations) China.

A surprise (or maybe not) since the president had hinted that the biggest Drug Lords operating via satellite remote control in this country are mostly based in China.

If true, at least, in matters of drug control, China and the Philippines are on the same page.

Further, Roberto Ongpin, defaced leader of PhilWeb, an online gaming company, has pledged 49% of his shares in the company to build rehab centers as well. Before the collapse of PhilWeb in the stock market, this valuation was at P20-Billion.

How they can resurrect that value back from its almost worthless state today, of course, remains a big business question.

Nonetheless, the government has appealed to all taipans and moguls to adopt a province for this purpose under their so-called CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) which is normally budgeted for by major companies year in and year out.

So these days, officially, Phase II of the Drug War is on. Hang on to your prayers.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com


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