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What is the ‘New Approach’ to the War on Drugs?

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OVER the course of the last two weeks, the authorities have confiscated two major shipments of illegal drugs worth over P6 billion, nearly aggregating the more than P6.7 billion worth of illegal drugs seized last March in Manila that are, not surprisingly, under the protective care of corrupt elements from the Philippine National Police. In the same month, the Bureau of Customs also intercepted some P400 million worth of shabu at the Port of NAIA.

And for the same month of March last year, during the waning days of the Duterte administration, more than P11 billion worth of shabu were seized at a roadblock in Quezon province by the National Bureau of Investigation while being transported to Metro Manila.

Giving credit where credit is due, our law enforcement agencies who participated in all these major drug busts—the NBI, Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), to cite a few—truly deserved everyone’s thanks and appreciation. If medals are given to them for their efforts, we join the public applause this early.

And yet, given the immensity of these seizures, the one disturbing fact that remains is this: they hardly affected the selling price of shabu of between P5 million to P6.5 million or P6.8 million per kilo. How come? When the buying and selling of this social menace is also affected by the law of supply and demand?

Supposedly, these major seizures should have resulted to a tight supply situation that should push upwards the retail price of shabu. And yet, the price remains stable until now, why?

We do not want to devalue the efforts of our law enforcement agencies, particularly the PDEA, the main agency leading our war on drugs. But clearly, there is something wrong about the whole thing.

There is something wrong when billions worth of illegal drugs, particularly shabu, are being confiscated by the authorities, year in and year out, but the retail price remains the same.

After the seizure of some 530 kilos of shabu said to be worth P3.8 billion at the Port of Subic last September 27, 2023, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said there was clear “foreign involvement” in the smuggling attempt. Was there a determined effort to unmask who these foreigners are?

The volume of the seized shipments also clearly indicated that these have long ago passed the ‘test shipment’ stage where only a small volume is shipped to ‘test’ the vigilance of our authorities.

We agree with President Marcos Jr. when he said that his administration is taking a “new approach” in the war on drugs for clearly too, the “harsh” and “no-mercy” approach policy of the Duterte administration during its 6-years term is a failure.

Indeed, at the end of the day, the Duterte-style of waging the drug war merely resulted to those engaged in this criminal enterprise to “lie low”—like cockroaches—only to surface as soon as the situation permitted them to do so. This is what we are seeing now.

It is self-evident then, that Pres. Marcos should make it specifically clear what this “New Approach” to the drug war really is.

The policy’s lack of clarity, especially as to what each of us must do to operationalize his instruction is being exploited by drug syndicates and their protectors in all layers of government to reintroduce in massive numbers their illegal drugs into our mainstream society.

Let us hope Pres. Marcos and his administration attend to this suggestion as soon as possible.

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