Shortly after President Rody Duterte assumed office, he released a list of high officials who he pointed to as protectors and operators in the local drugs trade that has spread like an epidemic during the previous administration.
The list provided a commitment that the administration of Rody will not relent on the anti-drugs effort since by naming the culprits there is no backing down from the campaign.
Rody would bring along the list in many speaking engagements and would present the thick folder to an audience to indicate the extent of the drugs problem facing the nation.
Sometimes he would even kick the list around to show his disgust.
The most recent revelation of Rody is the naming of six Philippine National Police (PNP) officials, two of whom were dismissed, as linked to the enormous illegal drugs network.
The names of the officials were revealed much in the same way as the previous drug lists.
Rody narrated how the syndicate has a life of its own with protegés developed to take over when problem arises.
The narco officials develop their network as a result of their official assignments that immersed them in the drugs trade.
Rody had previously warned about so-called ninja cops who recycle shabu that they confiscate.
An intricate network that involved the police, Customs officials and even Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) executives was identified in the latest matrix that Rody presented.
The narco officials are even those given the authority to undertake Rody’s war on drugs, an indication that even the President can’t trust those that he appoints to carry out his flagship campaign.
A report on the narcotics trade stated that the syndicate operating within the government creates a pool of agents and personnel who are mostly corrupt and have already created networks with different drug lords across the country and abroad.
The syndicate then mostly recycles drugs that have been confiscated and even earning substantial amount of money through extortion from apprehended suspects especially Chinese.
During police raids, the syndicate would declare only a small amount of the confiscated narcotics to allow most of the seized drugs to be recycled.
The wide network of the conspirators allows them to stage scripted buy-bust operations that are made to appear as legitimate raids.
One of these staged operations was so convincing it even received a reward from the PNP and PDEA.
The report stated that the syndicate comprises of a huge network of powerful people and sophisticated modus that periodically thwarts legitimate efforts to stop the illegal trade.
The report added despite the unrelenting war on drugs, the narcotics industry “has reached an unimaginable sphere of influence all over the country.”
Revamping the units within the enforcement agencies has no serious effect on the syndicate. “The processes of restructuring organizational landscape within the PNP anti-drugs unit has noble objectives, however, it was shrouded with the reality that it was merely aesthetics and technicalities on changing names and mandates of these differently-called organizations,” the report said.
From 1983 to 2017, there were four organization re-structurings made within the PNP anti-drugs unit which was supposed to weed out scalawags.
The latest of such changes was the activation of the PNP-Drug Enforcement Group after the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group was dissolved in the aftermath of the killing of Korean Jee Ick Joo inside the national police headquarters.
A source of concern among many is that the strong foundation that the syndicate has built in the previous administration where even the then justice secretary was suspected of being a protector of the illicit trade would be hard for even Rody to demolish.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima, who is charged with drug trafficking as a result of the New Bilibid Prison shabu factory, nurtured the narcotics trade to earn campaign money for her and apparently those in the position to give her orders.
It would take the most determined effort of Rody to finally end the menace spawned by the previous regime.
The Filipino nation behind Rody is an assurance that he will not fail in his quest.