Duterte’s wars won’t end

"The drug problem will continue so long as there is demand. Corruption will persist so long as there is human discretion and intervention."


I felt nostalgic about my friends who have gone ahead of me. A few weeks ago, I wrote about one of my best friends, Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua.

I remembered it was his birthday last August 30.

It was a pleasant coincidence that the following day, August 31, was the birthday of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. He was Tony’s good friend.

I remember Cardinal Sin amid our country’s pressing problems. We will never have one like him again.

A legacy of their strong friendship is the Catholic Mass media Awards, one of the country’s prestigious award-giving bodies. Both Tony and the Cardinal believed in the power of mass media to bring about social and spiritual renewal.

Establishing the CMMA in 1978, Cardinal Sin described the Rock trophy and recognized that values-filled work is “a tribute to those who are serving God through media.”

The CMMA, over 41 years, has lived up to the Cardinal’s vision, encouraging mass media workers to uphold and promote basic human and Christian values in the most outstanding way. In this, he had the full support of Tony, who was named CMMA president and chairman in 2000.

Tony held that post until his death in March 2016. His efforts to inspire mass media workers to promote love of God, love for truth, respect for the environment and positive Filipino ideals continue under the leadership of his son, D. Edgard A Cabangon, current CMMA chairman and also chairman of the ALC Group of Companies.

I wish the CMMA further success.

* * *

I have often been asked: Do I think President Duterte will ever be able to end his war against illegal drugs? He only has three years remaining in his term. And what about corruption?

Let’s start with drugs. Recall that when he assumed office in 2016, he vowed to end the menace in three months. This gave him unprecedented popularity,

But then he asked for six more months to end the drug problem. When this did not materialize, he asked for further extensions so he could deliver on his promise,

He’s now halfway into his term and the problem remains serious.

Why? Mr. Duterte is treating the drug menace as a law and order issue, not as the health issue it really is.

Santa Banana, estimates place the number of drug users in the country as between even and eight million. The problem worsens when the drug users resort to selling drugs to support their habit!

It’s a multi-headed monster, spawning problems and issues of extra judicial killings and corruption by the police.

While it’s true that rogue cops have been punished and dismissed, drug dealing among the members of the Philippine National Police continues. The killings remain as well. Police records say the number is at 6,000, but there are some estimates that say some 27,000 have already died.

The drug war has also spawned collateral problems like the country being called out by the international community for supposed excesses in the implementation of the anti-drug campaign.

Adding to all these is that at the New Bilibid Prisons, convicted drug lords continue to ply their trade even from behind bars.

The problem of illegal drugs is intertwined with the problem of corruption. Because of utter incompetence and negligence of Customs people, billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs find their way to our streets. And yet, the President keeps recycling Customs officials, because of his mistaken belief that former military officials are honest.

Honest, my foot!

Obviously, Duterte is ignorant of the fact that corruption also exists at the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But back to drugs, I believe that so long as there is demand, syndicates and cartels will always be there to provide the supply. What should be done is to stop that demand. Even if the cops kill the last pusher, the problem will not be solved if demand remains.

* * *

Meanwhile, corruption cannot be eradicated. It can only be minimized. Men and women have feet of clay. The temptation to make money will always be there.

The system breeds corruption. So long as human discretion and intervention are present, there will always be corruption.

Recycling government officials certainly does not help.

Illegal drugs and government corruption have a symbiotic relationship.

So, can Duterte win these warms by the end of his term? I say impossible!

Topics: Emil Jurado , Catholic Mass media Awards , President Rodrigo Duterte , war against illegal drugs , extra judicial killings , Philippine National Police
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