NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 10 July) — Without official and public declaration, the enemy has actually invaded the country long time ago, wrecking havocs to lives and institutions sacred to us. Our defenses were proven inutile to their insidious attack.
The enemy’s assault came imperceptibly for more than a decade now through the monstrous illegal drug trade – the infiltration of this hapless country by drug operatives bringing, tons and tons of material ingredients in the production of shabu, men to produce and market the substance, to bribe law enforcement authorities and other agents of the law.
The invasion strategy is evidently paying off. Many of the citizens have turned into heartless criminals and rotten drug users. Those in the drug trade are now after each other’s throat. The legal system has been compromised. Law enforcers turn into partners and accomplices in the illegal destructive trade. Judges are bought. Fear, distrust and confusion are sapping the energy of the people. What better way to lose the spirit and prostrate the country to the enemy than this?
The Duterte administration has rightly addressed the drug menace. If, however, it is really keen and serious to end the problem, it should focus government resources in combating the enemies that came from the outside, not in the killing of petty local drug lords, pushers and end users. It should stop the insane encouragement of civilians to kill these petty criminals because many innocent lives would only be wasted as collateral damage and the same has begun to undermine our democratic legal system. This erodes the people’ trust in the current government no matter how popular it may seem today.
Ignore criticism against us, but I think we need to thoroughly screen all Chinese nationals entering our territory by any means. Prohibit the entry of suspicious characters, or suspected drug operatives. We should not bother what others may say: this is about our survival.
All cargoes, consignment goods from Mainland China entering our ports should be strictly inspected. It is not remote that drug making materials enter different locations in our country that way. Or it could also be that smuggled goods and prohibited drugs or drugs production materials enter our shores via foreign cargo vessels and commercial fishing boats which drop these into waters near domestic ports. The dumped goods are then picked up or recovered by local contacts. Some coastal fishers had reported this kind of smuggling operation before.
Our intelligence along the coastal areas facing the South China Sea and down should be beef up. The Coast Guard ought to be keen on this smuggling strategy. But it’s not impossible that some in the ranks are involved in this activity and should be closely monitored.
Indeed, nipping the drug trade at the bud, so to speak, is the best way to end the drug menace. Giving so much attention on the symptoms or the visible effects of the problem divert us from the real enemy.
In electing Duterte President, it becomes increasingly clear that Filipinos are willing to risk, in fact sacrifice, some individual rights and freedom in favor of collective security and wellbeing, without perhaps realizing that at the end of the day sacrificing fundamental human rights in the altar of order and security forfeit both cherished collective and individual advantages and benefits. It might be late to realize that no one is eventually safe and secure in the trade off.
The Bill of Rights with the concept of due process is enshrined in our Constitution to protect all citizens from the excesses of the government or its agents in the exercise of their functions. This is non-negotiable. The State is legally mandated and obliged to uphold the fundamental human rights, in fact, not just of its citizens but of all people within its area of responsibility at all times. This is our obligation to the community of nations as a signatory to the universal declaration on human rights. Thus no one shall be deprived of life, liberty and property and other attendant rights without due process. In other words such intrinsic human entitlements cannot just be taken from anyone without fair trial and conviction in a court of law.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)