MAGANES: Corruption, illegal drugs and ‘jueteng’
Illegal drugs, corruption, all forms of criminal activities and illegal gambling- these are what President Rodrigo Duterte promised to eradicate towards the “change and reforms” in our government system. It’s a gargantuan task, so to speak, that needs a total overhauling of the government’s institutions anchored on transparency and good governance.
Barely five months in office, President Duterte has gained much on his war against illegal drugs despite the questions posed by international media on alleged extra judicial killings (EJK) as well as the United Nations European Union and the United States of America (USA). Duterte is even questioned on human rights violations not considering that what he had laid down was a total war against illegal drugs.
In war it is expected that there will be casualties but not as a shield if there are violations committed on the rights of the people. Duterte was firm on his order to the leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP)- kill if you must if your lives are at stake against the drug lords, pushers and users. Indeed, in the PNP operations many lives have been taken aside from those perpetrated by unscrupulous persons- vigilantes or drug lords.
The results of the war against illegal drugs are highly commendable. GMA News reported that data from police regional offices as of November 24, revealed that a total of 4,041,333 houses have been visited under “Project Tokhang” where police officers go to houses of drug suspects to convince them to mend their ways.
This activity resulted in the surrender of 804,589 drug suspects, of which 746,534 were users and 58,055 were pushers. The PNP also conducted 36,445 anti illegal drug operations which resulted in the deaths of 1,948 drug suspects and arrest of 37,230 others.
The PNP is looking at having the estimated 1.8 million drug suspects in the country surrender to authorities in the first six months of the administration in compliance with the campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The war on drugs is not a simple thing that even President Duterte admitted that he was short on its magnitude. He said it has already reached the level that Philippines is already a country ruled by “narco-politicians” and being backed up by “narco-cops” and even village officials. He once revealed the names of politicians, police generals, policemen, judges, etc. who are involved in the illegal drugs but refused to publish the names of those listed in ” a thick pads of papers”, which he said will make the people cry. That names of those in the list should have been revealed in order for those involved to clear their names and if not they should have been the targets of “Operation HVTs.” As long as those names will not be revealed, they will enjoy the comfort of innocence and still continue with their drug operations to the detriment of the planned total war against illegal drugs.
While the government is focusing on the national personalities like Kerwin Espinoza, Senator Leila De Lima and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, there should be a parallel operation at the local levels to put end to the illegal drug operations of governors, mayors, vice mayors, narco-cops, village leaders, etc. It’s the local levels’ drug operations that are alarming since the drug lords including their drug pushers and users can use their machineries in instilling fears among the populace and could corrupt the elements of the police force. On this, police officers must not be localized in their deployments. They should be assigned in other towns or provinces to avoid familiarization among the townspeople they are serving.
And how about jueteng operations? Personally, I believe that illegal drugs operate hand in hand with jueteng. The drug lords are the jueteng operators themselves. Maintaining jueteng needs a lot of money and this can only be done if the maintainers and operators are into the illegal drug trading. Money from the operations of the illegal drugs flows into the jueteng operations. I just don’t understand why President Duterte zeroed in on illegal drugs only. He should have declared a twin-war between illegal drugs and illegal jueteng to fully curb if not eliminate the two “demons” in our society.
People are aware that jueteng operations are still rampant in the guise of a “jai alai” system under the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation owned by a certain Atong Ang. There is no “jai alai” operations even in Cagayan Valley. There should be frontons where the pelotaris will play with their “cestas”. We don’t have off-frontons as well where afficionados will place their bets. This “jai alai” is just a front for “jueteng” since it involves the 1-37 number combinations. In real jai alai, number combinations are 1 to 10.
When will the war on “illegal jueteng” start? As long as illegal drugs and jueteng proliferate, many government officials including police officers will be corrupted. The bottom line will always be “money” and enriching oneself immediately. I hope President Duterte will look into jueteng operations soon. Let’s not be complacent on the gains earned on the war on illegal drugs. More social problems will be coming and one of them is “illegal jueteng”.
Corruption is another thing. Lately, Director Francisco Villa Jr. of the Energy Regulations Commission (ERC) committed suicide wherein he left notes insinuating that he was under pressure to do corrupt activities. Here’s a man who can’t withstand the corrupt system in the said agency but the only thing he did, which was understandable, was to claim his own life. Villa should have fought the system of corruption inside ERC by bringing the matters to President Duterte. But he opted a “dramatic stance” to call the attention of the government. Because of his “suicide”, President Duterte called for the resignation of the top honchos of the ERC. But his call was ignored. The Commissioners are hanging on to their posts without any remorse of what happened to Villa. Now, President Duterte has warned them to abolish ERC, but will Congress also heed?
Corruption is endemic in all levels of the government institutions. It has already reached the barangay levels where officials could no longer discharge their duties and responsibilities without monetary considerations. In provincial and municipal governments, the SOPs have been institutionalized on government transactions. This corruption system has been there for so long a time that is why we could not move on in spite of development efforts that have been the mantras of politicos.
How many Villas will have to take their own lives because they could not stomach the corrupt practices of their bosses? How many employees in the government service will come out to report corrupt practices in their offices or agencies? And how could President Duterte fight this corruption menace when even the Commission on Audit (COA) has already dipped its fingers into it?
I supposed the only thing we could do is to be vigilant in all our government transactions, and rely on the Executive Order of Duterte on the Freedom of Information (FOI), which will take effect on November 25.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” atwww.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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