Put drug lords out of business

For the campaign against illegal drugs to succeed, it must have a clear-cut vision, a definitive statement that puts all stakeholders on the same page. Simply put, the vision statement of the war on drugs must be no less than putting drug lords out of business.

“Drug dealers are in business to make profit, so when law enforcement increases the dealers’ costs, those costs are passed along (in the form of price increases) to people who use drugs,” according to the World Drug Report 2016, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Research suggests that the impact of law enforcement on drug prices is most appreciable in new or emerging markets, or when it induces market shocks in established markets,” the report noted.

The flak so far earned by the campaign on illegal drugs revolves on the fact that law enforcers seem to be targeting the demand side or mere drug users and not the real big-time pushers or drug lords who make a killing out of the weakness of drug addicts—a case in which the real objective of the campaign seems to have been totally lost in translation.

The spat between the House of Representatives and the Bureau of Customs over the prevalence of drug smuggling is another case in point that tends to muddle the objective of putting drug lords out of business, as the war on drugs turns into a war of words between Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Mandy Anderson, chief of staff of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

The situation evolved out of the critical question of how a multi-billion peso shipment of shabu or crystal meth was able to go through the bureau’s Express Lane.

We must not dignify the war of words between the House and the BOC. The House and the bureau must behave in a mature and civilized manner by striking a cooperative stance on putting drug lords out of business, because that much needed cooperation between lawmakers and government agencies is the order of the day if the campaign against illegal drugs is to achieve total success.

There is an immediate need to plug a loophole in the country’s drug laws, particularly the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act 9165 which lack a clear provision on what to do with seized illegal drugs after the contraband has been documented by the Philippine National Police, or the National Bureau of Investigation or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Make no mistake about it, seized illegal drugs must be destroyed immediately to avoid the recycling of the illicit haul by drug lords and their accomplices in law enforcement as what happened last year when so-called ninja cops were caught red-handed diverting and reselling seized drugs back in the streets.

On July 19, 2017, after a raid in North Sumatra, Indonesian policemen burned the methamphetamine that they seized.

The last time we saw PDEA destroy illegal drugs valued at nearly P2 billion was on July 14, 2016—the first batch that was burned under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In May this year, the BOC staged a raid in Valenzuela City where smuggled drugs that went through the bureau’s Express Lane were seized, according to House Majority Floor Leader Rudy Fariñas.

We need to know what happened to the seized drugs, not only from the BOC raid but also from the haul of the PNP and the NBI. We would very much like to know and witness illicit drugs being destroyed as soon as possible by law enforcement agencies.

Destroying seized drugs not only ensures that the contraband would no longer make it to the streets and into the blood stream of our people, but it is a sure way of putting drug lords out of business and the war on drugs to succeed.