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BLIND SPOT: Bicol Barangay Officials on Top

You want to be on top? Of course, you want to be on top. Who doesn’t want to be on top? We’re such big suckers for recognition. During their heights of popularity, Bicolanos would brag that Ely Buendia of the Eraserheads, Jericho Rosales and Andrew E had Bicolano root; and would even cite streets on which they grew up, or locals who are distant kin, despite the persons in question not even once mentioning of connections to Bicol, or speaking our tongue. I remember this local government unit which declared a national beauty title winner a persona non grata because she credited another town as her place of origin; despite the townsfolk’s claims that she is her kababayan. That’s how much we value recognition. Now, get ready to be recognized. “PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said they would file charges against the officials on the drug watch list, which include 90 barangay captains and 117 barangay kagawads, in a “week or two.” Bicol Region has the most number with 70 barangay officials, followed by Caraga (Region 13) with 34, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with 13 and in National Capital Region (NCR) with 12, from Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Mandaluyong and Quezon City. “Some of the officials in the list are users, some are pushers, some are even drug lords, but most are protectors,” ( Now, let’s do some math. You have to consider that the list covers the whole nation. Bicol has 70 out of 207. That’s 34%. The following region in rank only has roughly half of that percentage, with 16%. Metro Manila which one would suppose would have the largest market for illegal substance has a comparatively low number of barangay officials on the list with 6%. Wow! We even bested Carraga and ARMM which (no offense) are struggling with poverty and peace and order. Bicol does not have similar problems; at least not at the same level as they do. If you still don’t get the picture, it’s like this. 17 children has to share in one cake. This one kid took one-third piece of the whole cake. The rest – 16 kids in all divided the remaining two-thirds piece among themselves. On average, each of the 16 kids got a piece less than 0.5%; while Bicol got a big chunk of 34%. Yeah, we’re the big kid of the neighborhood. Eat your hearts out, Espinosas and Paruhinogs, we beat you to the percentage game. There’s more of your kind here, only in disguise. What does this imply? Within Bicol barangay streets, eskinitas and sitios, our honorable barangay officials themselves, based on investigation, use, engage in sale of, tolerate and protect the use and sale of, or even manage the whole economy of drugs as chief executive officers, or as they would say, drug lords. With that, it would be safe to say that in many of our barangays, drug use and sale is commonplace, and is engaged in by the barangay officials themselves; and sadly, more so here than in any other part of the nation. Now, what happened to that notion that all drug drunkards would be fleeing fast with their tails between their legs once the infamous drug buster of Davao takes national office. Reality check - reports of busted drug pushers and addicts are still a staple on national news towards the closing of the second year of the President in Malacañang; and there’s a popular idea that they’re all running and hiding scared. Even now, word on the street is these identified barangay officials are taking measures to release propaganda to sweep their names clean for the campaign; while a new breed of idealistic barangay government aspirants seek to replace them and overthrow them from power. I hear that one barangay official has released a drug test document proving his cleanness; while the opponent disputes the reliability of a urine test, challenging the other candidate to a blood test. – the colors of Philippine politics. Taking into consideration the drug market of South American countries of the Andes mountain range, “99% of the cocaine supply comes from Andean countries which have forms of government conducive to corruption”. “In countries such as Colombia and Mexico, the link between corruption and drug trafficking is evidenced in the direct connection between cartels and government officials. Authorities grant certain concessions (relaxing controls, rejecting extradition, influencing electoral campaigns, etc.), allowing drug dealers greater influence, flexibility and control that facilitates drug sales in the North, their final destination, through customs and police officials. In the northern consumer countries corruption also plagues the banking sector, whose purpose is primarily to “launder” illegal money with the participation of officials from public or private entities. These realities call for a thorough diagnosis of the occurrence of illicit relationships and the negative effects they produce in order to propose viable alternatives to prevent state institutions from being infiltrated by corruption in the future.” (Soberon, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” Matthew 20:26

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