Saturday July 21, 2018

Ledesma: Who silenced Kian? (1st of 2 parts)

I AM writing this piece from my iPhone. For nearly two hours now since we left Aleco, Nevada en route to Utah, there's these endless panorama of arid desert lands. Bare earth and rocks as far as my eyes can see.

All I can see now and then is the face of a grieving father of Kian, the 17-year-old boy who just hardly become a man. But then he grew up in an environment where even before a toddler could hardly muster the first step from infancy the harsh realities around the child curse him to a hellish life.

Kian's environment in Caloocan is duplicated many times over in the country. But this Sodom and Gomorrah condition is not exclusive to the Philippines. In Thailand and Mexico the scourge is even worse.

The multi-billion-dollar industry is life for the Mexican underworld and they spend billions in arms that made them even better-equipped than the government forces.

Thaksin Shinawatra waged his own war against drugs and the cartel quickly swept every link that could lead to their identity. The government's campaign nevertheless had its own collateral damage.

The United States, early in the presidency of Barack Obama, sent Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Mexico bringing with her billions of dollars and arms to eradicate the drug cartel. The mafia fought it out with the law and in retaliation kidnapped a whole bus full of teachers and torched them alive.

Closer to home, when the New Peoples Army's control of Davao City finally ended in 1985, a number of crime syndicates, including the vicious tentacles of drug syndicates crept into the ghettos where they recruited their retailers and pushers. This prior to Rodrigo R. Duterte's era but as an assistant city fiscal then he saw them all. Pushers were peddling drugs even right inside school campuses. There were few arrests made and for some time the military and police, debilitated by the protracted insurgency conflict, was not paying much attention to the growing menace of drugs that had stealthily entered into the doorsteps of the homes of the rich and the poor.

It was not until Duterte became mayor that the narcotic problem was addressed. The police likewise had a new director for its drug enforcement agency, Col. Efren Alcuizar. By that time, I was President of the Rotary Club of Davao and Efren was recruited into the club. Making use of his knowledge, RCD held forums in schools about the danger of drug addiction.

Alcuizar did not lose time in touching base with Mayor Duterte and in one of their meetings with the press the anti-drug cop came out with the list of suspects who were involved in drug syndicates.

What followed after the disclosure were series of executions and the police authorities themselves were in limbo as to who were behind the killings. Months later, Colonel Alcuizar himself was shot dead by a sniper in the outskirts of the city while stopping over at a fruit stand on his way back to the city.

To be continued tomorrow.