How many years have we, the people, been raising our voices and the alarms against the growing illegal drugs scourge? Yet, not only has there been no solution; after two decades, the cancer has grown to immense proportions. Former QC Mayor Jun Simon, over our new Saturday 10 to 11 p.m. radio program with Atty. Alan Paguia, explained that even during his time as mayor, the total number of drug users in the Philippines was already six-and-a-half million. If only a tenth of that consisted of regular users, then total revenues could have run to over P300 billion or $6 billion a year. Even though that’s just a small fraction of the world’s estimated $500-billion drugs trade, it’s still a huge sum for this country which has a national budget of only a little more than $14 billion.
The Philippines has been through four leaderships since 1986. All, except President Estrada’s, have had full terms of six years or more to have made a dent in the fight against illegal drugs. But all have failed. Even as all levels of government, especially local government units, have been called to take action, we still had that infamous “drugs tiangge” in Pasig two years ago, in which the result is still indeterminate as the mayor responsible for it still managed to pass his mantle to his son. In Pasay , on the streets where I grew up, there are also such similar drugs tiangge that abound today. And even in some deeply religious Muslim towns in Mindanao , the illegal drugs scourge proliferates. Alas, all government actions against drug proliferation seem to be a lot of lip service only.
Indeed, the Arroyo regime, like any administration formed under the present corrupt, economically-subservient and mendicant, neo-colonial system cannot go beyond lip service on this national scourge. This is because the international drugs trade is essential both as a geopolitical weapon and as an exploitative tool of the speculative world financial system. We’ve cited some cases before: from the 18th Century Opium War of the Brits, to the US ’ “Iran Contra” deals under Reagan, to the CIA’s backing of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and more recently, the US ’ full support for Afghan warlords in fighting the Taliban.
Today, I also add the case of Jackie Selebi, who was Interpol president from 2004 to 2008. Interpol is the UN transnational agency charged with coordinating international crimes, among which is the international drugs trade. Last year, Selebi, a South African police bigwig, was forced to resign his post due to charges of links to illegal drugs criminals. While certain elements of Interpol have long been accused of being involved in many illegal drug activities, using the UN mantle as cover, this recent charge against Selebi shows just how high up and complex the problem goes.
Another important factor to this global menace is the intricate link between illegal drug money laundering to the international financial and banking system, the bond of which is so strong that many reputable global banks run the risk of folding without such dirty money as their bread-and-butter. For instance, one of the world’s most reputable banks, HSBC or the Hongkong Shanghai Bank, was known as the “opium bank” as it was used by the Brits for its opium trade in China .
Illegal drugs are, thus, no different from other commodities of dubious value that the western global financial mafia has used to siphon off money from the real productive sector of the economy. Whether it’s the subprime mortgage collapse last year, or the multi-billion dot.com crash in 2000, or the “junk bonds” of the 1980s, or illegal drugs, these are all commodities that yield a thousand times more profits against their production cost and/or real value. Production cost of “ecstasy,” for example, is only six percent of its street price. Subprime mortgages or junk bonds follow the same formula: They all suck resources away from the real economy, leaving it dried and shriveled.
But then, what makes the global and local illegal drugs trade next to impossible to defeat are: 1) its billions in corruption money found too irresistible by bribe-taking officials; 2) such money easily determining election outcomes in almost all electoral democracies; 3) the means with which it can buy enforcers to liquidate those who cannot be bought; and 4) its being an adjunct to covert geopolitical operations in surrogate or proxy wars against national authorities or similar operations of rival powers.
If at all, only a few can resist the enticements of drug dealers or geopolitical powers. Those who do are the few whose dedication to higher principles of morality, patriotism or nationalism border on the religious or revolutionary.
Thus, any serious call for action against the illegal drugs scourge must also call for a drastic change in the country’s leadership. It should become one that is nationalist and anti-colonial in character; protective of the national welfare and its values; and dedicated to real economic development (versus exploitative and speculative economics). Since this would be a total reversal of the status quo, it could only come through a revolution, which can be a peaceful one, achieved through clean elections, like those happening in South America . What’s therefore needed is a revolutionary ideology, the kind espoused by detained Gen. Danilo Lim, who called for nationalist reforms in our country in his November 29, 2008 statement, as well as, in revolutionary actions a la Oakwood, the February 2006 and Manila Pen protests, and now, in Maj. Marcelino’s stand.
The PDEA vs. Raul Gonzalez fight is only another straw on the camel’s back, along with Cha-cha. These must all lead to “The Last Revolution” now or in 2010; without which there’s no solution.
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