One of the fastest growing drug problems in the world and particularly in our country is shabu. Official estimates suggest that about seven million people – almost 10 per cent of the population – used the drug.
A deal of shabu costs about 150pesos.
Once confined to the urban middle class, it is now the drug of choice in the country’s desperately poor slums and suburbs. Users go to shabu dens where they smoke the drug, although it can also be injected, snorted or dissolved in water. The drug keeps users awake and, as it is often taken at night, that can impact on work or school the next day unless more is taken. It is a pattern that encourages addiction and health authorities are concerned about the long-term repercussions of the explosion in use. More than 60 per cent of the world’s consumption of crystal meth is in Asia and much of that supply is made by drug lords operating from southern Philippines. Police are starting to discover industrial-style labs capable of producing a tonne or more of the drug each day. That equates to about 10 million hits a day. Shabu can be made easily and cheaply from ephedrine, which is used in legitimate drugs such as cough medicine. The scale of the trade and the depth of corruption it causes is best illustrated by the case of Ronnie Mitra. He was the mayor of Quezon province when he was arrested in 2001 for trafficking more than 500k of shabu he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The shabu crisis is rapidly filling the country’s prisons. There is a mandatory life sentence (should be death sentence) for selling even the smallest quantity of the drug. Holding cells are full of young men and women brought in for selling just a few pesos worth. With a mandatory no bail policy and life in prison, if convicted, the impact on families and communities is huge. PDEA has unveiled the Philippines new illegal drug centers: the cities of Ozamis, Iligan and Marawi. The drug syndicates may be taking advantage of the areas strategic location as distribution center. Two shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratories were shut down in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental two years ago. As for shabu trade in Lanao del Sur and the Islamic city of Marawi, I wonder how the drug trade could have prospered when Lanao del Sur has been governed by a succession of religious leaders. . Islam, however, considers consumption of alcohol and addictive substances as a sin. How can Marawi be an Islamic city and be a center of illegal drug distribution? Dr. Arafat El Ashi, director of the Muslim World League in Canada, wrote an article about the success of Islam against addiction. He maintains that Islam succeeds in fighting addiction by prohibiting intoxicants and asking the faithful to focus on change from within. He further questions how effective the other faiths can be in fighting addiction when these faiths encourage the consumption of wine, an intoxicant. When Islam was introduced to the Arab world, wine was acceptable and consumed by the majority. Islam changed this and the Quran prohibited the consumption of intoxicants. They ask you about wine and gambling, say in them is great sin and some profit for men, but the sin is greater than the profit. The Quran commands the faithful: O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, dedication of stones and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satans handiwork. So eschew it all so that you may prosper. Satans plan is to excite enmity and hatred among you, with intoxicants and gambling and hinder you from the remembrance of God and prayer. How then did Marawi and the Lanao provinces become drug distribution centers when Islam considers the consumption of intoxicants as a sin? The Moro Islamic Liberation Front wants Islamic law to be fully implemented in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. I wonder whether MILF leaders have brought the Moro drug dealers to justice, under Islamic law. Or have they, as have the other Moro leaders, turned a blind eye to these bringers of death and scourge of our youth, blinded by the gold that drug leaders provide as largesse? As the Muslim world fasts and the faithful search inward for guidance to go back to the path of the righteous, may our leaders find the strength and the wisdom to fight the scourge of drugs.