Can we lick smuggling?

I caught a few minutes of the TV livestreaming of the on-going Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into the P6.4 billion shabu smuggling case that was uncovered last year. Blue Ribbon chairman Senator Dick Gordon was giving a lecture on how Japan rose to become a superpower. He said this was just to illustrate how Japan, with a culture heavily steeped in honor, managed to harness resources to build a strong economy. One reason is that Japan has virtually no smuggling. There’s no reason why the Philippines can’t lick smuggling as well.


Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

But the corruption at the Bureau of Customs is deeply entrenched, and nothing has worked so far to eliminate the old practices like the “tara” system that breeds the corruption at the agency. Everybody, from top-level management down to the janitor and messenger, is on the take. Just look at the lifestyle of BOC employees! Ordinary clerks drive SUVs.

The problem is that corruption at BOC doesn’t just deprive Filipinos of resources that could contribute to improving the lives of the poor. This endemic problem is what makes it possible for Chinese smugglers to bring in tons and tons of shabu into the country. The P6.4 billion smuggle case is just one of many. And even now, shabu supply remains abundant, a solid testimony to the inability of our government to plug the leaks at BOC.

If President Duterte fails to stop smuggling of shabu, then his war against illegal drugs will become a big, sick joke. With the thousands of casualties in this drug war, President Duterte should realize that killing several thousands more will not end the problem. With poverty still unchecked, there will always be poor Filipinos who will gamble their lives selling shabu and feed their families.
This is the challenge confronting the President.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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