Dead Woman Walking

May 4, 2015 at 10:58 am 5 comments

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It was with a sigh of relief that I received the news that last week’s execution of Mary Jane Veloso for drug trafficking in Indonesia was postponed. This was after an appeal from Philippine President Benigno Aquino was granted to enable her to testify against the woman who allegedly duped her into carrying 2.6 kilos of heroin hidden in her luggage.

Veloso is among more than 80 Filipinos in death row around the world mostly for drug-related crimes. As drug mules, they succumb to the thrill of free travel and easy money transporting illegal drugs from one country to another.

According to news report, the West African drug syndicate was likely behind Veloso’s trip to Indonesia. Unfortunately, it’s only one of the foreign drug syndicates operating in the Philippines. Chinese and Mexican groups are also doing lucrative business in the country making it as a mecca for illegal drugs.

Corruption and lax law enforcement are to blame. Drug lords are treated with kid gloves and protected by influential people. It has become so bad that they can keep the upper hand even when they get caught, convicted, and jailed.

On April 17, convicted drug lord Ruben Tiu, who was sentenced to life, was caught selling a kilo of shabu with an estimated value of $24,000 outside his prison in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro with the jail guards serving as his escorts.

Under questioning, Tiu revealed that the shabu came from a supplier in New Bilibid Prison, which is the country’s main prison located in Muntinglupa City. As incredible as it might seem, it should not come as a surprise.

Last December, the National Bureau of Investigation raided the national penitentiary and discovered not only a thriving drug trade but drug lords enjoying special privileges while incarcerated. They had their own quarters with air conditioning and access to amenities like big screen tv, internet access, computers, stripper bar and jacuzzi. The raiding team also found in their possession drugs, large cache of cash, money counting machine, a PlayStation 4, signal jammer, CCTV set, sex dolls, pornographic CDs, drugs, and several guns registered to politicians.

It begs the question how could drug lords still operate their business and smuggle prohibitive items inside a maximum security prison? The obvious answer is it could only happen with the knowledge of prison officials and their guards. Of course, it came as a big surprise to Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Bucayu that these irregularities were going on under his nose.

Upon instructions from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the drug lords were transferred to another facility and Jail Chief Fajardo Lansangan and 12 jail guards were suspended. Incidentally, the families of the drug lords considered their transfer as a human rights violation and filed a complaint against the justice secretary accordingly.

The Philippines has tough anti-drug laws but they have not stopped the growth of illegal drugs in the country. A justice system that promotes rehabilitation rather than punishment does not help either. It can be easily exploited as in the case of drug lords who are treated like royalty in and out of prison.

It is for this reason that President Aquino’s plea that Mary Jane Veloso’s life be spared appears hollow. It was based on the premise that she could provide evidence against illegal drug and human trafficking syndicates plaguing both the Philippines and Indonesia. God forbid, the Indonesian government soon realizes that nothing would come out of it and proceed with her execution.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. aysabaw  |  May 4, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    when you look at the news, the police always catches the small fries but never the big time drug lords so its of no use.

    They should find the roots before the fruits but this is impossible anyway, for the roots are shielded by the government itself.

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  May 5, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      aysabaw:

      in other words, we can’t get rid of the disease if we only treat the symptoms. i’m afraid the situation will get worse before it gets better. 2016 is a very important election year and candidates for elective office (not all of them, of course, but a significant number i suspect) need drug money for their campaign funds.

      Reply
      • 3. aysabaw  |  May 6, 2015 at 6:45 am

        Sir P, that’s for sure. And their treatments are really just a part of the show because of the upcoming election.

        Reply
        • 4. plaridel  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:08 am

          aysabaw:

          darn, the best we can do is vote for the lesser evil.

          Reply
          • 5. aysabaw  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

            and hope for the best 🙂

            Reply

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