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Drug pushers, addicts back with a vengeance in Metro Manila

/ 04:08 AM February 25, 2020

Sen. Bong Go dropped a bombshell in Monday’s Senate hearing when he showed the controversial ad paid for by former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that showed children questioning the character of then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. The ad aired on ABS-CBN days before the 2016 elections. ABS-CBN president Carlo Katigbak apologized to the President if he was offended. According to him, the network does not and will not have a political agenda.

Whether that was the right answer or not, time will be the judge.

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But what is clear is that the National Telecommunications Commission will issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN only with the Department of Justice’s concurrence. Also needed is a joint resolution from both the Senate and House of Representatives. Without these, a cease-and-desist order will be issued against the network.Quite a tall order for my former company. But the biggest threat is Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court.

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It is frustrating for government officials to discover blatantly overpriced prime commodities on the first day of their crackdown against price manipulators. In Mega Q-Mart, and other public markets, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año were surprised by the P30 markup in the suggested retail price (SRP) of P130 per kilo for chicken. Imported “galunggong,” on the other hand, has an SRP of P130 per kilo but retails at P190-P210 per kilo. The SRP of pork is set at P190 per kilo but it sells at over P210 per kilo.

The government will use the 30-year-old Republic Act No. 7581 (Price Act) to stop profiteers, middlemen and hoarders who manipulate the retail prices of food in Metro Manila’s public markets. Under the law, violators face imprisonment of five to 15 years and fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million.

“Biyaheros,” wholesalers or middlemen are “untouchables” as they dictate the “day-to-day prices” on retailers who then pass them on to consumers.

This law was enacted during former President Fidel Ramos’ term and until today, we are not aware of any violator being convicted or punished. Zero conviction in the past 30 years.

How will I now believe that this administration is different from the previous ones?

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I have reason to believe that drug pushers and addicts are back with a vengeance in Metro Manila.

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Let’s examine recent events. Seven jeepney drivers in Makati City tested positive in random drug exams, days after a student was killed by a speeding jeepney whose driver was found to have used “shabu” (crystal meth). In Tondo, Manila, a drug-crazed holdup man shoots and wounds a vendor in the neck. A truck driver comes up positive for drugs after he runs over and kills a mother and her child in Bulacan province while two Metro Manila policemen test positive for shabu.

Small-time drug pushers are getting younger and ordinary people are found with millions of pesos worth of shabu in buy-bust operations. These include a saleslady in Novaliches (P3 million); 2 pushers in Lakeshore, Muntinlupa City (P3.4 million); a student and 3 others in Malabon City (10 million); a 23-year-old pusher from Tala, Caloocan City (P8 million); “injectable shabu” from young pushers in Mandaluyong City (P52,000); two Nigerian nationals at Amoranto Complex in Quezon City (P68 million) and a drug mule from Thailand arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (P28 million). The list grows longer. This shows shabu is ubiquitous again and readily available to drug-using jeepney/truck drivers and other people. Our streets are unsafe again.

Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Archie Gamboa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino need to take more aggressive actions.

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