To stop drugs, stop them at the ports

To stop drugs, stop them at the ports

When business legend John Jacob Astor (photo above) died in 1848, he was hailed as a titan of trade and praised as a sharp salesman with a taste for philanthropy. “There are few men whose biography would prove more instructive or more acceptable for the present age than the life of John Jacob Astor,” gushed  one magazine in his obituary. But today, one facet of the first multi-millionaire’s biography might seem to tarnish his shining legacy: his dabbling in smuggled opium.

If you value your integrity, then be prepared to take a beating from those who have none.

— Danish academic and media personality Lars Lau Thygesen

FIRST of all, I would like to congratulate my good friend, former Mandaluyong City mayor Benhur Abalos, for his appointment as chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

I met the new MMDA chief during the glory days when we often had drinking sprees with my cousin, Pasay City councilor Moti Arceo, at the well-known establishment of another friend, Roland Lim—who owns, I remember, that fabled racehorse Lim’s Expensive Toys.

So much for that, I believe our dear Benhur Abalos will do a good job in his stewardship of the MMDA.

Kudos, mon cher ami . . .

* * *

RECENTLY, the Bureau of Customs based at the Ninoy Aquino international Airport Port (NAIA)  with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG) seized 535 pieces of ecstasy tablets with a street value of PhP1 million. in an air parcel at Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC).

Packed in an air parcel, the seized tablets were initially discovered by Customs personnel at the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC) CMEC after a thorough physical examination, and subsequent laboratory test conducted by the PDEA, confirmed the tablets as party drugs known as Ecstasy. Records further showed that the subject air parcel came from the Netherlands and was misdeclared as documents.

For the year 2020, a total of 23,482 ecstasy tablets worth P42.27 million have been seized by BoC NAIA together with the PDEA and NAIA-IADIGT. BOC NAIA is in full support of Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero’s anti-smuggling campaign.

This brings us to the question of why these contraband continue to be smuggled or are attempted to be smuggled into the Philippines despite the firm advocacy of the authorities to prevent them from entering the country.

BoC officials, as well as those from PDEA and other law enforcement agencies, should recall that one of the most important promises of President Rodrigo Duterte is to eliminate criminality, particularly the illegal drug trade, so it is only fair that they appoint people who are going to obey this mandate by no less than the chief executive himself.

So let us make mention of who serves at the BoC NAIA . . .

According to the list of officials of the Manila International Airport Authority, Joseph Eric Miranda is an airport police inspector of the MIAA’s Terminal Police Division and officer-in-charge of the Surveillance Division under the Airport Police Department.

As an inspector in the country’s premier port of entry, Miranda is mandated to conduct initial comprehensive security surveys and subsequent periodic inspections of the airport, aside from recommending development or modification of the airport security program to correct deficiencies and satisfy security of the airport.

Moreover, the OIC of the Air Police Department’s Surveillance Division is likewise enjoined to bring to the attention of the airport administration lapses and weaknesses in the security measures and recommend procedures of their correction.

With these in place then, how is it that drugs continue to be smuggled through NAIA?

We are sure that the good Joseph Eric Miranda would claim that through his diligence in performing his duties and functions, several attempts to smuggle illegal drugs have been foiled—hence the seizure of millions worth of party drugs as well as other prohibited substances.

But observers claim that it is a trend among drug syndicates to have a lesser amount of their contraband confiscated in order to keep the officials in cahoots with their operations safe. Plainly described, they can afford to have a million worth of ecstasy seized by the authorities so hundreds of millions more enter the country unnoticed.

There are doubts whether the billions of pesos worth of drugs that are confiscated by the authorities are really new one and not those which have been seized already and after a while are nabbed again in another operation but with the same drugs that were earlier caught by our anti-drug units.

Sad to say, the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country continues to be a problem despite the vaunted ‘war on drugs’ being advertised by the Duterte administration. It’s funny to note that before the former mayor of Davao City took hold of the country’s leadership, millions worth of illegal drugs were being cornered by PDEA, NBI and other law enforcement groups. And now that Duterte is at the helm, this has grown to billions of pesos worth of drugs, which surprises us because if we honestly want to believe that the drug war is a success, then the amount should have lessened a long time ago.

Added to this, the Philippine National Police claim that they have neutralized the so-called drug factories in the country and not a single granule of shabu is being manufactured here and the supply instead is coming from outside the archipelago. Then why can’t the BoC stop their entry through NAIA and other ports of entry?

Is it the system that is failing or the people who implement the system who repeatedly blunder with their mandate?

Perhaps, Mr. Joseph Eric Miranda can answer this question. If not, then he has no right to be airport police inspector—especially since in a letter to MIAA Security and Emergency Services assistant general manager retired Army Brigadier General Romeo Labador dated October 14, 2020, PDEA Intelligence and Investigation Service director Edgar Jubay revealed that Joseph Eric Miranda, alias Jong, is included in the list of the Inter-Agency Drug Information Database (PRRD) involved in illegal drug activities in the National Capital Region (NCR). (AI/MTVN)

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