Thursday, February 25, 2016

Illegal Drugs, a Scourge of Philippine Society

Methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and marijuana are the most used illegal drugs in the Philippines. The reason for this is that they are the most available and affordable. Since shabu is the preferred drug of 90% to users, I am referring to it whenever I use the term illegal drug or drug in this article.   
The immediate effect of shabu to the body is similar to anti-depressant drugs that are sold in the local drugstore. It relieves depression. Shabu users have the feeling of euphoria and vitality when they get high. However, excessive and chronic used of it can make it addictive. A drug overdose can be fatal. The drug hampers the normal functioning of the body’s cells and organs such as the brain. In the long run it destroys one’s health, and may lead to an early death.                                                                                                                         
Drug abuse can result to adverse behavioral change to a person like being irritable, irrational or moody. It can make him neglect his personal hygiene and sanitation. A person addicted to drug prioritizes his vices over more important things in life such as his education or his career. As a result, he underachieves in classes or in his job. This situation has a dire consequence in him because he will fail in school or get fired from his job. Failures and disappointment set in, and he will soon develop a low self esteem and inferiority complex. His destructive habit will cause disharmony between himself and his loved ones. Since drugs are not for free, a user needs a constant inflow of money in his pocket to have it, and as a result the family’s financial condition is affected. When there is no more money to spend on drug he might do bad things such as selling personal or family belongings in order to buy drug. It will be even worse if he steals from his family or other persons to satisfy his cravings. Needing money for his addiction, the user may eventually progress from a mere user to a pusher. His illegal acts will then surely put him either in the drug rehabilitation center or in prison in the near future.  The sad fact is that pushing drug is a non bailable offense that carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. For being into drugs a young person virtually destroys his life and his future.  

Illegal drugs are a menace to the well being of society because it can cause people to commit murder, theft, prostitution and other crimes. Drug abusers are oblivious to their moral or spiritual obligations resulting to the decay of the fabric of society when many people are hooked in drugs. Since young persons who are into drugs are neglectful of their future, they reduce their chance of being gainfully employed or live a decent life. This will also deprive the country of having more young people who will help drive it towards social and economic progress. Moreover, drug abusers are a drain to the nation’s coffers since money that is better spent for government social services is instead diverted  to drug related expenditures such as law enforcement and penology, the construction of drug rehabilitation centers , the treatment of drug users and the prevention of drug addiction.

It is worthy to note that people who are into drugs either as s user or a pusher usually end up in prison. About 50% of cases filed and tried in courts are related to illegal drugs. The reason why people are into drug is primarily because of economic reason such as poverty and lack of employment opportunity. Other people use drug for the sake of curiosity and still others try drugs because of peer pressure. To put food on the table, people take the risk of selling drugs because there is a big money in it. Price of shabu per gram in 2007 was ($100) or 5,000 pesos.  In 2008 the street value per gram increased twofold which was ($212) or 10,000 pesos with a street value of 10 million pesos to 12 million pesos per kilogram.

Government deals with the drug problem by arresting and imprisoning drug offenders. However, these actions have not stopped the proliferation of illegal drugs because of the social and economic factors prevailing in the society or in some cases due to the corruption of few people in the government agencies tasked to combat the use of illegal drugs. While it is easier to raid drug dens and laboratories in the cities and municipalities, it is not the case if drugs are manufactured in conflict and rebel infested areas that are controlled by organized and well armed groups such as the Abu Sayyaff, BIFF and other groups. Those groups need support for their operations, and it is not far-fetched that they will collaborate with the drug syndicates to get funds for their cause. This kind of scenario will further complicate the problem because it involves threat to national security, and that those groups aided by illegal drug money may be able to launch terroristic acts on targets that include innocent civilians. The illegal drug operators in the Philippines are connected to international drug syndicates in Africa and Mexico.  Precursor chemicals in the manufacture of drugs come from such countries as China, India and Thailand. A PNP Illegal Drug Operation Task Force report in 2013 said that international drug cartel such as Sinaloa of Mexico had already operated in the country.

It is almost a daily fare in local TV, radio and other news media to report incident on people using or selling drugs who are caught in buy bust operations by law enforcement operatives such as the PDEA and police agents. This gives the impression to the public that drug problem has already reached at an alarming proportion and need to be effectively contained by the government. Arresting and imprisoning people who are into drugs are only a cosmetic solution to the problem if its root causes are not addressed.  What is a society that has many people hooked into drugs or many of its people are unproductive or imprisoned because of it. The problems are perhaps a symptom of a failed or dysfunctional society. Penitentiaries should not be solely aimed to punish individuals for their crimes, but also to reform and rehabilitate them so that they will become productive and acceptable to their community once they are released from prison. The government too has an obligation to eliminate poverty and other main factors that cause the proliferation of illegal drugs. This includes providing opportunities for people to earn income through jobs or business activities so that they will not resort to committing crimes to support their families.

The magnitude of illegal drug problem in the country is manifested in electoral campaigns of candidates in the upcoming national election in May 2016. Presidential candidates make the eradication of illegal drugs as one of their agenda once elected into office. Indeed, illegal drug is an evil that the Philippine society must overcome. Illegal drug problem is not only the concern of law enforcement agencies such as the PDEA and the PNP, but also of the government, the churches, the schools, the NGOs, civic organization and most importantly, the family, the basic unit of the society. People from all walks of life must work hand in hand so that the present scourge of the Philippine society can be defeated.