Kwentong Barbero: Of Chopper Crashes and Narcopolitics
My inner conspiracy theorist just had to resurface after AP reader Maria Palmera posted links about a helicopter crash resulting to the death of a governor and his security escorts. I first became aware of this story when another AP reader casually posted a link in the shoutbox. last May 8 – two days before the election.
It said that the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) stumbled into a drug transshipment and manufacturing base on Icolong island in Quezon province. An excerpt of the report states:
Placer said the raid of the Akira Sakurai & Hiro Taniguchi, Howa Inc. Pearl Farm uncovered chemicals that are used in the manufacture of metamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu,” giving physical credence to a US intelligence report of narco-politics shaping up in the country.
PASG operatives confiscated highly-regulated chemicals such as potassium nitrate, disodium nitrogen phosphate, sodium orthosilicate N-hydrate powder, and sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate.
Placer said Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of the Cavite Regional Trial Court Branch 22, issued the warrants to search the premises based on reliable information received by the PASG in a case against the pearl farm.
The operation comes amid the leaking out of a US Drug Enforcement Agency (USDEA) report three weeks ago that US$8.4 billion (P384 billion) worth of dangerous drugs were “either being generated, passes through or is used by drug syndicates in the Philippines,” he said.
The same report allegedly underscored an alleged link between the thriving drug trafficking business and local politics as the money generated from the internationally-outlawed trade is suspected of fueling campaigns and a massive attempt to cheat the scheduled elections on May 10.
The revelation by US authorities over the palpable impact of “narcopolitics’ in the elections underscore this reality, alongside the discovery of chemicals in making shabu, said Placer.
He said the leadership of Quezon Governor Rafael Nantes must be placed under scrutiny after the discovery of drug transshipments and manufacturing base on the island of Icolong.
“This is an international (drug operations) and it’s happening here in Burdeos. That should raise alarm on the governor here (Nantes), “In fact, there is suspicion on the local government of letting this happen,” said Placer.
The discovery of transshipments in the island stares the nation in the face and the country will become a center for trans-shipment point for high-value drugs, a global supplier and consumer of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu).
It raises questions linked to the USDEA report which, essentially, warned of drug money making its way to unscrupulous politicians and making the hotly-contested presidential election susceptible to influence by this massive illegal operations inimical to national security.
Placer as well as well-placed sources from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said there has been no representation from the Quezon provincial capitol to address the drug threat in the province.
Incidentally, Nantes, a former congressman and who is frequently seen in Metro Manila, is the national treasurer of the Liberal Party whose standard-bearer Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III happens to be the frontrunner in presidential surveys.
Being election season, I read that initially as a far-fetched attempt to link the LP with drug money and consigned the notion as prematurely malicious.
However the succeeding days have become more interesting so to speak as the various links show the developments, in quick rapid-fire fashion.
1- The Governor who happens to be the LP treasurer faces a probe over the drug transshipments. – http://balita.ph/2010/05/10/quezon-governor-and-liberal-party-treasurer-faces-probe-over-drug-transshipments/
2 – PASG clears Aquno and Nantes – http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/national/9318-pasg-clears-aquino-nantes-.html
3 – The Governor dies from a chopper crash – http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/257807/quezon-governor-3-others-killed-chopper-crash
4 – The LP mourns death of Quezon Gov – http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20100517-270565/LP-mourns-death-of-Quezon-Gov
An inquirer editorial in 2009 had already sounded the alarm bells when it wrote:
Lost in the competing headlines is the bigger picture, and that picture is the looming menace narcopolitics represents in the coming 2010 local and national elections. The dangers of narcopolitics have been in the public consciousness since the 1990s. Its corrupt and corrupting influence has been on display time and again, but the full extent of the subversion of law and order by foreign and domestic drug dealing syndicates remains a matter of conjecture.
There is no question that money counts in politics; and that our fabulously expensive political campaigns require greater and greater infusions of funds as the public becomes increasingly cynical of candidates. Which means voters who find little to believe in candidates are more and more inclined to be moved by appeals to their more mercenary instincts. At the same time, there is a growing demand for reform throughout the country, and this can only be neutralized by politicians if they engage in fraud and terrorism, both of which require lavish expenditures as well.
The global economic downturn, which officialdom has responded to by irresponsibly insisting we’re better positioned to weather the storm than other countries in the region, will take its toll on the 2010 campaign. Businessmen, already increasingly shy of bankrolling candidates, will be even less inclined to shell out money to candidate-extortionists—except those whose success depends on exchanging donations for political favors; the public, never inclined to actually shell out money to candidates, will, at the same time, demand more and more in terms of goods and services from a cash-strapped government. Which means someone has to step in to fill the coffers of ambitious candidates.
Enter the criminal syndicates. They are the drug dealers, the smugglers, the gambling lords and their goons for hire. They are, in many cases, either the same people or allied with each other. They already have officials in their pockets and can only hope to increase their network of dependents and co-criminals in the military, the police, LGUs and national government, the judiciary and the media. All of them increasingly tied to triads and mafias with foreign connections, too.
We are well too aware of what happened to the Latin American countries that took the path of narcopolitics – not only minds were being crippled, but people were being blown up, communities were disintegrating, anarchy and crime reigns – the drug lords become the new oligarchy or the oligarchy simply diversified into the drug trafficking business.
Can Dead Men Really Not Tell Tales?
From discovery, to probe, to clearance, to chopper crash, to “mourning” – In less than two weeks. I dunno, but it sure reads like the stuff that movies are made of. Remember Arnold Schwarznegger in Eraser – only that in the Nantes case, it could have been the bad guys doing an Ah-nold.
Maybe I have been watching too much CSI. You see, the chopper crash angle has been covered quite extensively in lots of Hollywood whodunnit flicks. Whether art imitiates life or life imitates art – beats me – though the string of events is just too uncanny, too eerie, and given the stakes – sacrificial goats are in order.
Can we believe that with Nantes dead, then the probe will never know his dealings? And, therefore the probe becomes moot and academic?
Really? I just think that this probe will wind up just like the Agrava commission – no results.
Is Nantes even really dead? – The charred beyond recognition thing makes it appear that there’s no way of finding who the bodies are. Uhmmm.. have they bothered to check the teeth? Or the bones? I doubt the teeth or bones were charred. Those samples ought to be tested for DNA and cross referenced. Anyone familiar with switching bodies from the morgue?
Who were the people Nantes regularly talked to within the period before the chopper crash? A record of the phone calls made should be subpoenaed as well to start following the moneytrail. Were the flight plans checked? Was there an unscheduled landing? Was there communication with air control? There’s just too many questions. Nantes being the LP treasurer was responsible for fundraising. The drug transshipment just conveniently happened to be in Quezon province. And now, Nantes is conveniently dead.
We will never know what Nantes knew, but with good detective work – all that can be revealed, assuming the detective does not get into a vehicle crash, ambushed, or was mysteriously mugged with an ice pick, or isn’t bought off.
By the looks of it – Aquino is off to a “good” start – suck it up all you yellow suckers – your ride has not even begun yet.