MANILA — The Philippine illegal drugs trade is now a PHP120-billion industry supplying over four million users.
The country’s anti-drug agency said some PHP14.49 billion worth of illegal drugs have already been seized, or 12 percent of estimated supply, in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last June 30.
“The drug problem of the country is massive and now poses a threat to the national security. Status quo is not acceptable, we need to do something now,” said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Isidro Lapeña.
Lapeña stressed that illegal drug users must be treated from addiction to reduce the demand for drugs, and eventually stop this problem in the country.
He said the top three narcotics in the Philippines are shabu, marijuana and ecstacy which are mainly distributed in the streets by small-time pushers. These illegal substances are manufactured by transnational drug syndicates.
University of the Philippines (UP) Political Science Professor Ranjit Rye noted that the Philippines own drug market is “becoming bigger and bigger.”
“Unless we do something about it, we will have the problems of many mature narco-states like Colombia and Mexico. So do we want to go there?,” he asked, noting the need to understand the social, economic and political consequences to the country of illegal drugs use.
The United Nations World Drug Report 2016 identified the Philippines as among the departure and transit countries in Asia for cocaine.
It said cocaine seizures in Asia tripled from the period 1998-2008 to 2009-2014, in line with indications that cocaine consumption among the upper classes in several of the more developed Asian countries has started to rise.
The most frequently mentioned Latin American countries of origin, departure and transit for cocaine shipments to Asia in the period 2009-2014 were Brazil, followed by Colombia, Peru, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico.
On the other hand, heroin trafficking in the Americas continues to increase, with heroin and morphine seizures rising during the same period on reported increases in opium production in Latin America over those periods.
It was estimated that a total of 247 million people worldwide used drugs in 2014.
Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said there is so much work to be done to further address the illegal drugs problem in the country.
“Illegal drug trade has met its match, notably the political will and unwavering resolve of our President and his relentless mission to divert our country from the dangerous trajectory of becoming a narco state. The consequence of becoming a narco-state is unacceptable to us and the next generation. In both economic and social terms, we cannot allow a menace to society to dictate our nation’s destiny,” he noted. Leslie Venzon/PNA-northboundasia.com