Solons say drug war focus should be on cutting supply » Manila Bulletin News



By Ellson Quismorio 

Members of the House of Representatives from both opposition and pro-administration sides are calling on President Duterte’s administration to put more effort on stifling the supply side of the illegal drug trade.

House of Representatives (Michael Varcas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Party-list Representatives Tom Villarin of Akbayan and Rodel Batocabe of AKO-BIKOL reckoned that for the administration’s anti-narcotics war to succeed, the pouring in of illegal drugs on the streets must be halted.

“The illicit drug trade is about the law of supply and demand,” noted Villarin, who belongs to the self-styled opposition bloc dubbed the “Magnificent Seven.”

“If the focus is eliminating the demand by EJKs (extra judicial killings), it won’t work. It should be a comprehensive solution not a simplistic solution,” said Villarin, who with the rest of his faction has consistently criticized the Philippine National Police’s bloody conduct of illegal drug operations.

“The biggest challenge is the supply side. As long as nothing is done with the big-time shabu smuggling it will fail,” the Akbayan lawmaker said of the drug war.

During the Magnificent Seven’s press conference last week, Villarin claimed that the street value of illegal drugs hae essentially remained the same. Had drug quantities been low, then prices would have shot up.

Batocabe, president of the 46-strong Party-List Coalition (PLC) at the House, also called for a focus on cutting the supply chain of illegal drugs in the country.

“We must sustain the war against drugs not only by curtailing the demand side, but more importantly destroying the supply chain and bringing to justice the big fishes in the drug trade,” he said.

Batocabe is part of the vast pro-Duterte supermajority coalition in both houses of Congress.

But if recent events, particularly the drug smuggling scandal at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), are any indication, then the Duterte administration has a long way to go before it could put a dent on this supply chain.

Just last May, a clandestine shipment of “shabu” worth P6.4 billion passed through BOC officials’ noses. The matter has been investigated by congressmen in aid of legislation.

Although the cache of drugs was ultimately seized, lawmakers worry that more such shipments managed to enter the country in the past.

Duterte won the presidency via landslide in May 2016 after promising to wipe out the illegal drug business within three to six months of his term. He recently said it would take more than one term to get the job done.

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