Will there be an end to the problem of illegal drugs in the Philippines? I thought so then. Now I have second thoughts.

When Pres. Duterte was running for election in 2016, his campaign was bannered on the elimination of illegal drugs. “I hate drugs,” was his famous line then. That he got the overwhelming vote of the Filipinos, only indicated how many supported his platform of government on illegal drugs among others. He asked then to be given three months to eradicate the menace to Philippine society. Having all the resources – men, money and machine of government at his disposal, we never doubted that he would succeed. Now, three (3) years after assuming the office of the Presidency and launching is nationwide “manhunt”, the problem is as much a problem, may be even worse, than when he started the campaign.

What happened and for what reason/s? He underestimated, we underestimated the forces that are behind the problem. It turned out, we were just looking at the iceberg of the illegal drug problem. What appeared then as surmountable in three months was only a tip of the problem.

The problem was not one that a father could do when a recalcitrant child needs to be disciplined where some short cuts can be done. In the case of illegal drugs there could be no short cuts since the solution must come within the purview of the law and the inherent right of the human person. In addition, the players are not the ones we see walking leisurely on the streets. Many of them are entrenched in their mansions and in their seats behind the tables of power both of government and the business sector. Even when one is incarcerated in prison is no deterrent to running a successful illegal drug business that earns billions of pesos in return.

To sum it up, the campaign against illegal drugs for three years has only succeeded in catching the street pushers who can be replaced any time. The real culprits are all smiles on their way to the bank.

Let us look at the case of Bohol. Under OplanTokhang alone, we netted close to 40,000 surrenderers. But these are just the users turned street pushers to feed their addiction. A few big ones turned out in the custody of the PNP every now and then but it is too far in between. From out of the 40,000 that could have helped in pinpointing and naming the big suppliers and distributors, the PNP has not reported more than 10 who have been arrested and put in jail.

On the contrary we hear of magnetic lifters that were used to smuggle in P11 billion worth of shabu into the country. And even if the Chief of the Bureau of Customs already admitted that they failed to detect it, he was only ordered transferred to another lofty post in government. That big undetected supply has lowered the price of shabu in the market. What used to be a P6,000 sachet is not only P2,000 according to the Chief of PNP. An P11 million worth of that supply found its way to Bohol the other week. We congratulate the Bohol PNP for tracing where it was being stored and successfully confiscated it with the arrest of its custodian.

Pres. Duterte’s seeming inconsistency in applying his iron fist policy against his erring appointees could work against his war against illegal drugs and corruption. His selective justice could dampen public support on his war against illegal drugs and even to his administration especially that the mid-term elections are due in less than seven (7) months.

It will be well for the police and other law enforcers to work on the big suppliers and distributors if we want to put an end to the illegal drugs problem. The Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Bohol has identified and organized the four Pillars – supply reduction, demand reduction, rehabilitation, sustainability - to end the problem. Let every agency in those pillars come up with definite plans of action and implement them without let up.

Then we hope to end the scourge that is illegal drugs.(For comments and suggestions, please email to: [email protected]).