Subsequent media attention on the case has highlighted once more the magnitude of the country’s drug problem. [An ABS-CBN report said the Philippines has the most number of drug users in Asia.] And, as in major scandals that had tainted the integrity of high public offices, Congress has stepped in by investigating the parties involved, although I remain skeptical on whether legislative action could at least scratch the surface of the real problem – a culture of corruption that insulates the rich and powerful from prosecution and sanctions.
To expect Congress, in particular the House of Representatives, to clamp down hard on the bribe givers and takers is a long shot. Doing so would be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. It was not too long ago that many of its members pocketed at least one million pesos each in exchange for ignoring the crimes of the pretender in Malacañang. Would they dare to punch hard at officials of the DOJ, an agency headed by a known Palace lackey?
Now, take a look at another report quoting Dangerous Drugs Board chair Vicente 'Tito" Sotto III as having proposed the restoration of death penalty against convicted drug traffickers. The same report said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago wanted capital punishment for drug pushers.
Sotto’s and Santiago’s proposals reflect perhaps a genuine concern over the effects of a resilient social problem. Perhaps too, theirs were a voice of desperation in that after decades and millions [maybe billions] of pesos spent on the anti-drug campaign the problem has only mutated like malignant cancer cells. Indeed, what would give the public more satisfaction than the sight of a drug trafficker or pusher tied to his deathbed and injected with a lethal kind of his ware? Or of suspects subjected to quick vigilante justice?
Both proposals, however, ignore the single major reason for the continued proliferation of the illegal drug industry in the country – corruption that has crept into the high levels of law enforcement, prosecution and judiciary.
The drug problem has persisted not because death penalty has been repealed but because drug lords, traffickers and pushers know they can always buy their way out. They know that everything in this country is for sale, from votes to licenses to favorable court decisions. This is not where the splendor of the rule of law shines the brightest. This is where the color of money blinds the law and blights the land like a medieval plague.
This is not about laws. This is about how laws are becoming useless.
Above all, this is all about money. Ask the Alabang Boys, stupid.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno received in 1987 the Jose W. Diokno Award for winning in a national editorial writing contest sponsored by Ang Pahayagang Malaya and the family of the late senator.)