A problem of health and poverty


It does not appear as though President Rodrigo Duterte can end the war against drugs by the end of his term.

Note that what he is saying now is completely different from what he said in his first year in office. Then, he was so confident he could end the menace.

Now he is realizing the problem cannot be solved that fast, even if he orders his police force to go after anybody suspected of drug involvement.

This war has also spawned collateral damage, like extrajudicial killings. Thousands have been killed, and most of them come from poor communities!

This only validates what I have been saying for so long now—that the drug problem has roots in poverty and health issues.

Why poverty? Look at all those killed in police operations. Many of them come from depressed neighborhoods. They become addicts to forget their misery, and then turn to drug pushing later on so they can finance their habit.

Why health? Drug addiction is both psychological and physiological. They must be rehabilitated.

This is why the killings must stop. Killing drug suspects never solves anything. It only worsens the problem.

Now there is outrage among the people. We only have to recall history and what protest movements eventually lead to.

The fact that illegal drugs are being smuggled through the Bureau of Customs tells us that the demand is there. So long as there is demand, the drug problem will not end. We see how corrupt our Customs bureau can be especially given our porous borders. It is just so difficult to stop the entry of illegal drugs!

This is why the President must stop the killings. He must learn from the mistakes of other countries.

As for the case of Kian Loyd delos Santos, I can only echo what Malacañang is saying. Those responsible for his murder should pay the price!

* * *

The nation marked National Heroes’ Day yesterday.

Sadly enough, as revealed by Manila Times columnist and former Ambassador to Greece Rigoberto Tiglao, we do not have national heroes because our most eminent historians cannot seem to agree on who is fit to be called a national hero.

There are reports that the Yellows are making things worse because they want to include Ninoy Aquino as their hero.

Speaking of national heroes, I recall the Battle of Bessang Pass at the border of Ilocos Sur and Mountain Province. The infamous Japanese General Yamashita and his men made their last stand there.

I believe that the 1,200 Ilocanos and Igorots who sacrificed their lives in this battle should also be regarded as heroes. My own brother, former Court of Appeals Justice Desi Jurado, was part of this group that led the assault.

* * *

What do we do about the corruption at Customs?

The Duterte administration has been challenged to solve this problem at the agency. It has been having difficulty. Former Captain Nicanor Faeldon, supposedly an honest man who revolted against corruption, could not do anything about this problem at Customs.

And now the agency has a new commissioner. Can former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency head Isidro Lapeñas step up and curb corruption?

During the Marcos era, Finance secretary Cesar Virata hired the Swiss-based Societe Generale de Surveillace for pre-shipment valuation. The system worked, for a while.

Soon enough, though, even the SGS people were corrupted by the syndicates, which led to a review of the contract with the government.

I think the solution is the privatization of the entry of shipments across all ports. This will also do away with the practice of politicians of interfering with Customs operations, even having their own people appointed to choice spots.

* * *

I want to congratulate my good friend, former vice governor of Laguna Totoy Tingson, for the promotion of his daughter Col. Rodylyn Tingson Manzano as brigade commander of the 7th Marine Brigade to Brigadier General—the first woman to hold such a position.

Totoy must be so proud. Congratulations!

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