Dispatch from Crame No. 411: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on the Philippines as Duterte’s Narco-State


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With billions of pesos worth of shabu smuggled successfully not once, but twice (and perhaps even more), into the Philippines under the very noses of Customs officials, the Philippines has truly become a Narco-State under no other President but Duterte himself.

The biggest question in the Duterte administration’s drug war that is not being answered by Malacañang is its anemic response to the smuggling of billions of pesos worth of shabu when compared to its impunity in killing alleged small-time pushers and addicts.

PDEA claims that the latest smuggled shabu worth P6.8B, the shipment contained in magnetic lifters that slipped through Customs, has now found its way in the market. Former Customs X-Ray Chief Lourdes Mangaoang claims that if not for incompetence, or deliberate omission, Customs officials should have detected any illegal shipment hidden inside the hollow magnetic lifters.

Despite these confirmations, the BoC and Malacañang, including Duterte himself, continue to deny the existence of this shipment. In the meantime, no official investigation as to who are responsible for this latest billion-peso shabu smuggling is ordered by Duterte. No Customs official is investigated or fired. Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña refuses to accept responsibility for his agency’s incompetence in stopping the smuggling of shabu, despite allegations even on his agency’s possible connivance in the smuggling.

This is just but a repeat of the original P6.4B shabu smuggled in five metal cylinders under the watch of then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon last May of 2017. During the Senate investigation then, members of the so-called Davao Group who turned out to be friends and associates of presidential son Paolo Duterte were implicated in the importation of the illegal drugs. Faeldon was also immediately cleared by Malacañang of any responsibility for Customs’ failure to stop the shipment, in the same way that Lapeña is now being cleared by Duterte.

There is a nagging pattern that shows Duterte’s disinterest in going after these big-time smugglers and drug lords. First, there is a denial, and then a whitewash.

For a President who has no qualms in ordering the summary execution of alleged small-time drug pushers and addicts, Duterte is exceptionally indifferent in going after the real drug lords who smuggle tons of illegal drugs into the country. One is tempted to believe that he is protecting them, and that his drug war is nothing but a sham to cover-up his own role as the number one protector of big-time drug lords in the country.

In the two years that billions of pesos worth of shabu was smuggled into the country, one thing is clear. Duterte is not interested in going after the drug lord smugglers, or the Customs and other government officials who cover up their role or incompetence in the smuggling. Instead, he is the first to clear anyone of responsibility and frustrate any serious investigation on this network of drug lords, drug smugglers, and Customs officials that all point to a very influential person as the alleged leader of the so-called Davao Group. Clearly, he does not want to go to the bottom of all these things.

By doing this, what is also clear is that Duterte is just letting shabu smuggled into the country find its way into our streets, to be sold by small-time drug pushers and addicts who are in turn marked for summary execution by the PNP and its death squads. This only makes the drug war itself part of the cover-up of large-scale drug operations controlled by drug lords and their government protectors.

This is the real Philippine Narco-State that Duterte has built for himself, and for which he alone is responsible as the President who made it all possible. ###

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