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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, March 7, 2018
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with Matè Espina

Drug’s ‘Robin Hood’

Rock & Refuge

The President’s war against drugs has apparently not filtered down to the poor communities that continue to protect drug lords who have been taking care of their needs despite the deadly Tokhang threat.

Police and other enforcement agencies are having a hard time capturing Ramy Poja, tagged as a top drug personality in Negros allegedly because village officials, residents and family members have been protecting him and helping him evade arrest.

This is not surprising at all and our police should have realized that a long time ago as this is a repeat performance of what happened during the time of convicted drug personality, Boy Cuadra, who was also allegedly being helped by neighbours that alerted him whenever there are new faces seen in their community and provided him escape routes.

The old Cuadra was finally arrested in Panay and is now serving his sentence at the New Bilibid Prison, which we all know has also become a drug dispensary and has been a subject of a congressional inquiry.

The old Cuadra was allegedly replaced by his son, Gerald who was last heard in the news a couple of years ago when a raid in his house allegedly netted more than a million worth of illegal drugs and high-powered firearms.

Strangely, though, either the police had a weak case against him or for other technical reasons, two judges gave him back his freedom, one releasing him on bail for illegal possession of firearms, and another for dismissing drug charges against him.

Thus, apart from the huge problem of neighbourhood protection for alleged drug lords, you also have the system to contend with, and unless and until our enforcement agencies are given help in ensuring tightrope cases against their targets, the promise of drug cleansing by the President will never happen in 6 months, nor in 1 year or even when his stint is over.

Poja who has been tagged as a “Robin Hood” in the areas where he resides is a classic example of why the war on drugs is hard to purge.

What do our police have to do to convince residents to turn against those who feed them?

One of Poja’s team members even torched himself just to avoid arrest and probably bring what he knows of the drug trade to his grave.

That’s how tragic the drug situation is in our communities and until political will is sent reeling through these drug-infested communities, the residents will continue harbouring their Robin Hoods.

It is quite laudable for village officials of Brgy. Sibucao in San Enrique, where Poja officially resides and has a lot of relatives there, to pass a resolution requesting the police to seal off their barangay until he is arrested, but this, to me, conjures an image of Dame Judi Dench, in the movie Shakespeare in Love, shaking her head and muttering, “too late, too late.”

There is also the problem of coordination among our enforcement agencies. Some operations in the past have been compromised because an enforcement agency wants to claim merit for it on his own, when sharing information among them could actually be more successful.

Who cares who arrests whom? In the public’s eyes at the end of the day, the initials PNP, CIDG, NBI and what have you, fade in memory. What remains is the feeling of safety and of restored faith in our enforcement agencies.

Other issues that have been bugging our residents, including me, is the slow implementation of road repairs and parking violations all over the city, particularly along the circumferential road. Gone are the days when you can claim it only takes 15-20 minutes from your place to reach the airport.

If you pass through the circumferential road, portions of what should have been a 3-lane pass has now become two lanes and in some parts, even just one lane per way. Apart from the repairs, the road has been turned into a parking lot, a junk yard and a pit stop for sugarcane loaded trucks.

The CL Montelibano area has also become a headache and just last Monday, I timed my driving from that area all the way to Lacson at an unbelievable time of 30 minutes.

Traffic enforcers in that area are visible, but the delay is just caused by the slow road repairs. I cannot also understand why portions that have already been fixed are not yet opened to commuters to ease traffic yet are being used as temporary parking spots. I think this area really needs a more serious attention by the DPWH, or whoever is in charge of that project, as that is a main throughway during weekdays.*


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