NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/ 14 July) — The public is told over and over again that the drug trade was a very lucrative business in Marawi City coddled by or under the protection of big-time politicians and local government officials of the place. And drug money, accordingly, financed the ISIS-Maute-ASG operations – in the recruitment of new members where huge sums are reportedly spent in attracting new followers and in maintaining those already in the rank and in acquiring and stockpiling of various types of arms and munitions and food supplies prior to the Marawi siege on May 23, 2017.
The stockpiling of war materials and food supplies may explain why the terrorists have lasted to this day (53rd day) despite their reported decimation having been subjected to devastating airstrikes and ground assaults.
In the first week of June 2017, at the thick of the Marawi war, the government forces found P52M cash and P27M worth of checks, in one of the houses in the besieged stronghold of the Maute guerrillas. Initial reports suggested that the huge amount of money was parcel of the Maute war chest. It is, of course, unthinkable that the Maute fighters would carry with them their war chest to the battlefield. What is probable is that the money belonged to the owner of the house where the Maute snipers had positioned themselves in slowing down the assaulting ground troops. And it could be dirty or drug money because no legally-minded person would keep such volume of cash in his dwelling. The owner of the house could be a big-time drug lord in the area. This is a lead that the PNP drug operatives should pursue to the end.
However, is the PNP really that serious in its drug campaign in this part of the country?
If the drug problem in Marawi was that worse, then it should have been one of the priority areas of the PNP double barrel project against illegal drugs.
Yet, why haven’t we heard of drug lords succumbing to the police dragnet and herded to jail; of deaths arising from buy-bust operations, where drug personalities were killed in fighting back resisting arrest or capture, or from vigilante-like killings of persons-of-interest; or of the number of surrenderees under Oplan Tokhang in the place. Surely the mass media would not miss any event anent the drug drive in an interesting place like Marawi.
Was Project Double Barrel ever implemented in Marawi, and for that purpose, in other ARMM areas, like in Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi?
No less than the President of the Republic claimed that the Mautes are supported by drug lords and made alive by drug money. This is tantamount to accepting that the PNP and other law enforcing agencies failed him there. Thus, the calamitous Marawi war.
The apparent selective enforcement of the drive to eradicate illegal drugs in the country does not look good for the government. It suggests that the drivers lack guts, capacities and moral determination to reach the goal. The situation is not helped in the deployment to above-mentioned areas scoundrels and criminal-minded cops, the garbage at the bottom heap of the PNP command. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan is a retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus in Misamis Oriental).