PRO 7’s Moby Dick

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Saturday, August 23, 2014


IT MAY actually be working. The operative word here is “may.” I’m talking about the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign.

When Prudencio Tom Bañas took over from Danilo Constantino as PRO 7 director, he announced that going after the men and women behind the illegal drugs trade was his priority.

And the police have been everywhere. They’ve conducted raids and arrests in the north, in the south, in the component cities, in Cebu City and that’s just in Cebu Province.

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The lede in Sun.Star Cebu’s front page story last Aug. 22 summed it up: “Cebu’s police have been arresting persons they have long suspected to be drug dealers.”

In the last 10 days, police have rounded up 22 suspected drug pushers and have seized more than P3 million worth of shabu on separate operations in Carcar City, Consolacion, Toledo City and Lapu-Lapu City.
One of the arrested suspects is a 50-year-old laundrywoman from Sambag 1, Cebu City. Mary Jane de Guzman, also known as Marilou Toledo, was taken into custody last Thursday after she sold shabu to a police decoy. She allegedly had in her possession shabu worth P472,000.

With five mouths to feed, the single mother said she was forced to deal drugs to ease her family’s financial burden. Her lack of education meant she could not find a “decent” job. Washing other people’s clothes was not enough to support them, she said. She had to supplement her income.

De Guzman admitted that she knew about the hazards of her new profession. Getting arrested was one of them. Getting killed if she failed to remit drug proceeds was another one.

I’ll give it to the police. Twenty-two is a lot of drug pushers off the street. But here’s where I need more convincing that the PRO 7’s anti-illegal drugs campaign is actually working.

They need to catch a big fish. I’m saying “a” because I don’t need them to catch a school of sharks. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be a whale shark. Heck, I’ll even settle for a stingray, although sharks have been so newsworthy lately. Anyway, de Guzman, even though she is considered a level 2 pusher so she’s no minor player, is just an anchovy. Okay, anchovy may be too small, how about a grouper? Not too big, not too small… but I digress.

My point is police need to go after the financiers, the ones who own and operate the shabu labs. The ones with the guns, the goons. If de Guzman had half a million worth of shabu stashed in her room in Sitio Kalubihan, imagine what these guys or gals are rolling in.

Plus, most of the suspects police arrested were poor.

De Guzman was smart. She played the poverty card. A single mother. Five children. So she may have broken a lot of homes, driven others to a life of crime or basically ruined their lives when she sold them shabu, to the teeming masses, though, she will always be the woman-next-door trying to make ends meet so she could put food on the table.

And there are many de Guzmans out there, all willing to risk life and limb for a respite from destitution. They, too, want a piece of the pie even if they end up with the crumbs.

In the eyes of the law, de Guzman is a criminal, or she will be if proven guilty after she is charged. But there are many who will sympathize with her. Understand that circumstances drove her to do what she did.

But if police raid a mansion inside a compound with several luxury cars and they arrest a well-heeled suspect, someone who has manicured nails and who gets a facial every week and oh, the suspect must have fair complexion… now that’s another story.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2014.

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