“Let me see if I’ve got this Santa business straight. You say he wears a beard, has no discernible source of income and flies to cities all over the world under cover of darkness? You sure this guy isn’t laundering illegal drug money?” TOM ARMSTRONG
By Alex P. Vidal
We have a situation where it’s impossible to win against drug syndicates today. But it’s still possible to beat them tomorrow. But not soon.
Although some of them have already been identified — their addresses and types of businesses put up as fronts for their illegal trade — the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is still adamant to name who these drug lords are.
But PDEA-6 regional director Paul Ledesma thinks “shaming” the punong barangay or village chiefs who refuse to cooperate with PDEA and seriously activate their Barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs) will minimize if not paralyze the operations of drug syndicates.
We don’t think this strategy will snowball. No village chief will be intimidated by a threat of a public censure from PDEA, or any state agency that deals with narcotics problem in the country for that matter.
Most village chiefs don’t give a hoot if their names are mentioned in the air lanes or published in the newspapers as “punishment” for failure to convene their BADACs. They can always offer as convenient excuse that their hands are full and they also need to attend to other matters, not just about illegal drugs.
For them, this kind of negligence is an intra-barangay issue, not a major offense; a simple lapse that can always be remedied and corrected.
Putting village chiefs to “shame” does not make them outright villains in the eyes of their constituents. They won’t tremble in their shirts and grab their walkie-talkies to indiscriminately report to police the presence of drug traffickers just for compliance.
Village chiefs are PDEA’s partners in crime, not kindergarten pupils who need to be given the dressing down for mischievous acts. Two heads — PDEA plus village chiefs — are always better than one. In the battle against illegal drugs, they also risk their lives and the safety of their families.
BADAC isn’t an assurance that drug traffickers will be rounded up and wiped out in quick succession. Many dealers of shabu and other illegal substance are also barangay officials and, perhaps, members of BADAC. Drug syndicates have mushroomed in barangays and have maintained a Robin Hood-pauper type relationship with some residents who sometimes act as moles and runners.
What the PDEA should do is focus its canon on the drug lords themselves. In a punitive measure, PDEA should grab the bulls by the horns and deal with the drug lords directly, not threaten with shame campaign the village chiefs.
If PDEA thinks “shaming” the drug lords can help, they must have the guts to name them in public. A tit for a tat since drug lords have already shamed and scandalized PDEA. By having successfully penetrated many slum areas and subdivisions; and by bribing barangay officials, cops and even the media, these drug lords think they now have the upper hand in the psychological warfare vis-a-vis the PDEA.
We laud the PDEA, City Hall, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for holding the Barangay Drug Clearing Operation Orientation Seminar last February 5 in Iloilo City attended by 174 village chiefs (only six were absent).
Some village leaders involved in drug trafficking who were present may have tipped off their partners in illegal drug trade about the PDEA’s strategy.
“Clearing operation”, as a theme of the orientation, was good in objectives and battlecry. Once the barangay is cleared of the presence of drug traffickers, there is nothing to be sold anymore. If there are no sellers, there will be no buyers and users.
A drug-free barangay is a dream of everyone who wants peace, harmony and tranquility in his community.