Bamboo gang PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 29 August 2016 14:50

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Los Angeles, CA. — Presidente Rodrigo R. Duterte. He is the No. 1 law-enforcement official of the Philippines and will not stop knocking on every criminals’ doors. Who does he have in his list of gangsters — drug dealers, drug manufacturers, smugglers, gun-runners, sex traffickers, gambling lords, grafters — and what is he going to do with them other than having them shot? He is committed to rid the Philippines of criminals, of offenders. God has been trying to do that the last 2,000 years.

While his direct involvement in the war against crime has endeared him to not just law enforcers and the military but also the general public, it has created an environment of fear for the lawless individuals, the scum of the earth fearing that they could/would become the next target of execution. Those who haul their drugs from elsewhere into the Philippines are jumpy. Most of them have left the country or are in hiding.

It’s not easy being the president of a country overpowered by evil even though he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chief policeman all together. His speeches are loaded with hate for drugs, graft and corruption and condemnation of wrongdoers, especially those contentedly perched in government. He said that if he goes to hell, he will take the criminals with him. Lucifer would love that.

In Zamboanga, the war on drugs started years ago when notorious individuals of prominent families were gunned down even in broad daylight. But those extra-judicial executions weren’t given any publicity. Why? In the daily blotter of the police, reports of incorrigible drug users and pushers being executed or arrested in drug buy-bust operations were marked “not for publication.” The media respected that, even now. The same is true with military journals. Operational matters were marked “confidential”. Ambuscades that involved the lives of soldiers were, and still are, on a need-to-know.

To my mind, the biggest drug operation against the bamboo gang in Zamboanga happened during the incumbency of Rep. Celso L. Lobregat when a big shabu laboratory was discovered in Lamisahan by police operatives. He led that raid where two Chinese nationals were arrested and subsequently jailed. One got away after allegedly paying his way out and is believed to be hiding in Hong Kong or somewhere in China. When smart phones were still unheard off, he already had one. The other is still languishing at the Zamboanga Reformatory Center, better known as the city jail, awaiting trial. He has not named his bosses, though authorities have been trying to squeeze that information out of his mouth. Nevertheless, the police have an idea who they are.

Three years ago, the police revealed the names of four alleged big-time drug dealers in Zamboanga. No arrests have been made because the allegations could not be proven.

When he first sat as mayor in 2004, his first marching orders to the police during his inaugural speech was to get the drug dealers and their cohorts by all means possible. His next orders to the police were to secure the city at all cost and the installation of comprehensive traffic law.

We also made progress in thwarting big-time smuggling. Rolls of ukay-ukay, Indian and Chinese rice, onions and garlic brought in from Malaysia have been intercepted consistently at the port. Whatever happened to the seized contraband is for the Bureau of Customs to say. But we have not arrested a single smuggler because they are, according the authorities, well-protected heavyweights. There’s a lot of hanky-panky going on daily at the docks — not only in Zamboanga but all over the country, especially at the north and south a harbors in Manila.

The war on drugs isn’t new to Zamboanga. Our leaders never bragged about the positive gains they made against illegal drugs. They never highlighted their accomplishment versus the drug trade because their top agenda are peace and security, law and order to prevent killings, kidnappings and armed robberies.

Like President Duterte, Zamboanga hates illegal drugs, curses drug dealers and drug traffickers. Dope kills, no matter which side of the fence you belong. In the early 50s, there was a house in Tomas Claudio that offered opium to rich, depressed Chinese migrants, even locals, to help stabilize their minds. When all those hooked to it died, the trade died with them. Methinks, the war on drugs won’t stop until those involved in this multi-million-peso devil’s business are dead. Amen.