The probability of narco politics taking over the nation was huge had fate been less kind to Filipinos and the one voted into the presidency in 2016 was not Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Upon his assumption in Malacañang, the President went for the jugular by taking on the top dogs in the Chinese narcotics mafia called the Triad by exposing its government connections through a matrix he made public.
In a televised address, he named personalities and even came up with a table showing a supposed family tree of the narcotics trade.
Of the Chinese drug lords in the table, two were in jail while the other had the good sense of fleeing abroad to evade Mr. Duterte’s radar.
The President gave a commitment to the public that he would end the drug menace within three to six months upon setting foot at the Palace.
The revelations indicated that the top rung of government mainly in the police force is heavily contaminated and was owned by drug syndicates.
The names revealed were identified with the Liberal Party (LP), which ruled the country under the lackluster President Noynoy Aquino, such as then Police Deputy director Gen. Marcelo Garbo Jr. who had been closely linked to Mar Roxas, the former Interior Secretary and LP standard bearer.
Garbo was even tipped as the probable Philippine National Police (PNP) chief had Roxas and the LP not fallen short in waving the Smartmatic magic wand.
The rogues’ list Mr. Duterte showed indicated all instrumentalities of government were afflicted with the narcotics scourge.
Drugs money was also apparently a big contributor to economic growth in the previous regime that may explain the phenomena of a continuous strong growth during the term of Noynoy while the poverty level remained stagnant.
During the term of Noynoy, the usual excuse was the anti-graft crusade dressed under the “Daang Matuwid” catchphrase to eliminate political opponents, while nothing was done to address the rising criminality and drug addiction.
The intensified campaign resulted in a surge in arrests and deaths of suspected traffickers and criminals from which rights groups allied with the detractors of the war on drugs had a field day in exploiting to pounce at the Duterte administration.
Usually the content of critical reports against the war on drugs was the crowded and deplorable condition of the country’s penitentiaries, which was not even the fault of the current administration since prison facilities were among the stalled projects of the failed Private-Public Partnership (PPP) program of Noynoy.
As the surrenderers and the arrests piled up, the problem became more pronounced.
Yet, the packed prison cells and the supposed extrajudicial killings were lumped into the maladies of the war on drugs.
The opponents of the administration took it a level higher by stating Rody sanctioned the abuses by citing his frequent rant about killing criminals and drug traffickers.
The war on drugs, however, was a massive effort to undo the failures of the previous regime that nearly turned the country into the first and only narco state in Asia.
Beginning today, Daily Tribune executive editor Chito Lozada shares his insights on the latest developments in Philippine politics and business in the Commentary section.
With the late Ninez Cacho-Olivares, Lozada is one of the veteran journalists who founded the Daily Tribune in 1999.
His column, “Typewriter Fiend,” may be read on the Tribune’s Tuesday and Thursday issues, both in print, online and social media.