Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dope Republic

The current imbroglio over the Alabang Boys and illegal drugs subculture among the rich and (in)famous amuses me quite a bit. Why is there so much ado over this when the illegal drug scourge has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past two decades since Edsa I’s so-called “revolution” liberalized virtually everything--from the unfettered trade of goods and human cargo, down to the exchange of cultural values, regardless of their negative impact? Though many issues can be leveled against the Marcos regime, toleration of the illegal drugs trade isn’t one of them. He, in fact, carried out a well-publicized execution of a drug pusher by the name of Lim Seng. His nemeses from Edsa I and II should then be asked: Why did the illegal drug scourge escalate after their so-called revolutions?

In the 20 years since the fall of Marcos and the takeover by “civil society” of the reigns of government, the Philippines has become an internationally-acknowledged transshipment point for the global drugs trade. Larry Chin of Center for Research on Globalization writes in his six-part series on The US and the Philippines: Post 9/11 Imperatives: “The Philippines is a major transit route for heroin from the Golden Triangle to markets in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States. The Philippines exports locally produced marijuana and hashish to East Asia, the US and other Western markets, according to the CIA World Fact Book. The country serves as a transit point for heroin and crystal methamphetamine, or ‘Shabu,’ most of which is sourced from China, passes through the Philippines into Guam, Australia and rest of Southeast Asia.”

He continues: “The US State Department's 1999 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report identifies the Philippines as a ‘country of concern’ because of its rising crime, pervasive corruption, strict bank secrecy laws and lack of legislation against money laundering. The drug trade accounts for some 8 percent of the nation's gross national product.”

Was this part of the promise of Edsa I, a “revolution” so enthusiastically supported by the US? Liberalization of trade, international travel and financial transactions under the Edsa I regime apparently facilitated the turn of the Philippines into a “narco state” or what I call a Dope Republic (with a double entendre I will explain later). Was this facilitation an accident? Or was it by design? History offers us many specific instances to learn from.

Wherever Britain and the US set its foothold, the illegal drugs scourge begins to grow, and there is no way for this scourge to enter a country unless its borders, trade, travel and finance are liberalized. The most recent case in point is Afghanistan. When the Taliban was running that country in 2000 poppy production dropped by 60 percent as reported by the UN. As soon as the US “War on Terror” brought its troops to that country, poppy production increased drastically over the years. Afghanistan is now reportedly supplying 90 percent of the world’s opium production today. Flashback to the decade before is the example of Kosovo, where the CIA-sponsored Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) traded drugs to fund Yugoslavia’s destabilization. Now, the KLA leader is president of the independent Kosovo.

In the 1960s, it was Latin American that was afflicted by the scourge of illegal drugs as spread by US subversion. One of the celebrated cases involved drugs found in the US company Chiquita Banana’s ships plying the Columbia fruit trade. Of course, another one is the notorious “Iran Contra” drugs-for-arms deals under Reagan, with Col. Oliver North, where the US traded drugs to buy and supply arms to the Contras fighting Nicaragua’s leftist rebels. Farther back in history, one also finds the British Opium Trade that brought China to its knees. The opium trade also victimized the Philippines as the British had agents selling in the Philippines, among whom is a certain Barreto family, now British immigrants and citizens.

In 2001, a report came out on the seizure of 39.8 kilos of shabu from a FedEx shipment from Hong Kong to the Philippines on September 11 by the Bureau of Customs. A similar case occurred in July 30, 2002. While we can’t say that there was a corporate involvement in these instances, it is very clear that the liberal entry of goods via various means has abetted the expansion of illegal trade supplies in and outside the Philippines. Although countries like Malaysia, Singapore and China certainly get equally large shipments of goods through FedEx, UPI and other courier services, we can safely say that their customs, anti-smuggling and anti-drugs services are certainly not as porous as ours. Aggravating all this is the essentially corrupt government and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Invariably, the PNP, since its Edsa I beginnings down to the purported Edsa II “anti-jueteng” revolution, has lived on the expansion of illegal jueteng under its nose. Archbishop Oscar Cruz has stated that this illegal numbers game had doubled since Gloria’s coup in 2001. Clearly, after each such revolution, the country gets poorer and poorer, compelling the keepers of law and order to rely more and more on corruption money for survival. Imagine that 60 percent of cops are now squatters! Are we such dopes that we as a nation have not realized this?

The Alabang Boys’ case has pushed the corruption of the Arroyo regime to media’s forefront; while our AFP young officers have done well with Maj. Marcelino, following the proud tradition of the Magdalos (Bagong Katipuneros). But I am afraid that everybody might have still missed the larger picture. Like the decaying economy, the illegal drugs scourge comes with the neo-colonial, corrupt institutions (from the “hoodlums in uniform” to the “hoodlums in robes” as Erap called), and a globalized socio-political-economic system led necessarily by a corrupt bureaucrat-capitalist leadership.

We need a revolution to cut off the cancer of illegal drugs in our society. And to achieve it, we need leaders of integrity and honor, and of dedication to the national welfare and goals proven by demonstrated self-sacrifice. That’s why I am rooting for those who have paid the price of incarceration for standing against the corrupt regime, - the tried and tested triumvirate of Pres. Estrada, Gen. Danilo Lim and Sen. Antonio Trillanes to take charge. (Tune in to 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., featuring :“Integrated Coconut Processing Centers for National Recovery;” also visit