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Larger bureaucracy needed in antidrugs drive

12:02 AM July 11, 2016

ANTONIO MARIA Costa, former executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and director general of the UN Office in Vienna, said in October 2005 that crime is both the cause and consequence of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment. This is the case in Central America, South America, Western Asia, the Golden Triangle and much of Africa.

The Philippines is in the same “crime and poverty trap.”

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Under the past Aquino administration, tremendous anticorruption efforts made it possible for the country to attain the highest score in the Corruption Perception Index—3.8 in 2014, up from 2.6 during the previous Arroyo administration. In 2012, the Aquino administration posted the highest GDP growth (7.6 percent) ever since the martial law years. Yet, the poverty incidence only slightly eased—from 26.9 percent in 2009 to 25.2 percent in 2012, even as the crime rate rose.

“A look at the state of crime, drugs in the Philippines” by Pia Ranada (Rappler, 1/5/16), reported: for the entire 2014, the total number of reported crimes reached 1.2 million, up from 1 million in 2013 and 218,000 in 2012; also, around one-fifth of our country’s barangays were drug-infested, with 92 barangays in Metro Manila recording drug-related cases.

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This reality can only be explained by the fact that the government bureaucracy is undermanned, with the public sector employment constituting only 1.5 percent of the total population—a characteristic of underdevelopment and a relatively weak government.

As early as April 2013, no less than the late senator Ernesto Maceda appealed for Malacañang to hire additional personnel for the Department of Education, Philippine National Police, Department of Health and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

For President Duterte, a successful fight against crime, drugs and corruption is a tall order, even if he has the full support of his party, PDP-Laban, the “supermajority” in Congress. However, with unrelenting support, in various forms and ways, from the 16 million voters who believe that he has the charisma, guts, capability and sincerity to lead the nation, he might just succeed—big.

It must be noted that China and Vietnam, which are among the top three countries with the harshest antidrug laws, have low poverty incidences—6.1 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. This is because the two countries not only have a higher rate of public sector employment comparable to that of advanced countries; also, both are permanently ruled by communist parties whose members are well-entrenched in their respective bureaucracies, thus ensuring the continuity of their national directions and policies as stipulated in its Millennium Development Goals.

 

—EDMUNDO ENDEREZ, [email protected]

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TAGS: drugs, Duterte, Illegal drugs, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, Rodrigo Duterte
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