The Filipino public is in the right for criticizing the promotion of sacked Bureau of Customs head Isidro Lapeña to Duterte’s cabinet as new head of the TESDA. Why would Duterte promote Lapeña after he has been publicly exposed as having refused to act to stop the smuggling last June of more than 1.6 tons of methamphetamine hydrocholoride (shabu) worth P11 billion from China?, many skeptically asked.
It reignites the earlier question: why would Duterte continue to appoint former BoC chief Nicanor Faeldon to various state agencies (most recently as head of the Bureau of Corrections) despite the fact that he was indicted as a conspirator over the smuggling in May 2017 of more than 600 kilos of shabu worth P6.4 billion from China. The smuggling involved Duterte son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo and son-in-law Mans Carpio who were in close contact with Faeldon before the smuggling. Charges were later dropped.
Indeed, by continuing to support Lapeña and Faeldon with government appointments, Duterte is making himself appear to be rewarding the two for having allowed the large shipments of shabu from China, keeping them close, ensuring their loyalty and silence.
Duterte’s actions give the people a clear picture how he himself is lording it over the illegal drug trade in the Philippines. He has been protecting the big shabu smugglers which include his son and son-in-law and in fact managing it through his appointees in the BoC. He is, in fact, the country’s drug overlord presiding over the Philippine narco-government .
The illusion of Duterte’s “war against drugs” has been shattered. All the pompous declarations of being against drugs is all smoke and mirrors. Under Duterte’s rule, shabu smuggling and local trafficking thrives.
Before the recent shabu smuggling was fully exposed in congressional investigations, Duterte had insisted the smuggling of shabu was “pure speculation.” He had wanted all customs officials to keep their silence.
However, not everyone toed the line and chose to expose how the smuggling took place, using the body of magnetic lifters as transport. Now, he has ordered the overhaul of the entire BoC in a bid to make sure that everyone will follow the lead of the BoC’s head and that no future smuggling attempt will be exposed to the public.
Duterte has appointed former AFP chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero, continuing the line of ex-military officials to head and man the customs machinery, and further strengthening the ties between the military, Duterte, the shabu smugglers and the criminal drug syndicates.
The Philippines is now swamped in shabu. In just over a year, at least two tons of shabu have been smuggled in the country. This has reportedly pushed down the price of shabu from a high of P8,000 per gram in 2016 to P1,500 per gram at present.
Under Duterte, the Filipino people are being made to wallow in shabu, earning billions of dollars for the criminal drug syndicates and their bureaucrat capitalist cohorts. They must be held accountable and punished for their grave crimes against the Filipino people.