DUE TO worsening drug dependency, the Philippines may well be on its way to becoming a narco-state.

This is the view of Fr. Carmelo Caluag, S.J., vice-president for planning and development and academic affairs of Ateneo de Manila University, and Mary “Rosebud” Ong, the controversial former deep penetration agent of the defunct Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).

The two discussed the growing number of drug addicts in the country during the symposium, “A Forum on the Narco-Political Situation in the Philippines,” last Nov. 9 at the St. Albertus Magnus Auditorium.

A narco-state, according to Fr. Caluag, is a nation controlled by drug syndicates and which has an economic dependency on the drug trade.

The growing drug problem became evident in a recent survey conducted by a reputable company, said Fr. Caluag. The results showed that there were some 20,000 addicts in the country before 1972, but the figure ballooned to close to five million “shabu” (metamphetamine hydrochloride) and marijuana users this year.

Furthermore, Fr. Caluag also showed statistics proving that there are more youths addicted to drugs in Mindanao than the rest of the country. Most of addicted youth hail from rural areas.

In addition, Fr. Caluag also said that the country is becoming a soft state because it is weakened by political turmoil, corruption-plagued institutions, and unfulfilled hopes of the recent revolutions. He added that if these factors are not arrested, the country may become a narco-state.

Meanwhile, Ong tearfully recalled how drugs threatened to destroy her family.

“(When) school authorities at Xavier School informed me that my son was caught sniffing ‘shabu’ inside the school premises, I knew I had to do something,” she said.

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Keeping oneself out of danger

Ong said the situation can still be reversed. She added that Philippine National Police chief, Director General Leandro Mendoza, has no links to criminal syndicates, unlike his predecessor, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and is in a better position to check the menace.

She added that the current PNP brass should be given the chance to prove their worth.

“I may have said something in the past that may have tarnished their

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