There is not a single town left in our entire archipelago where you cannot find the drug, Shabu (meta-amphetamine); or, if there still are, they are few and far between. From jeepney and taxi drivers to students to business executives to government employees and officials, the users are everywhere and number in the millions. It is the drug of choice of 90% of substance abusers in the Philippines. According to PDEA and PNP officials, the sale of Shabu in this country has reached 200 kilos (200,000 grams) a day worth P1B in the wholesale market. That translates to about P1.4B street price or a profit of P400M a day divided among the sellers of the drug. Of course, the big drug lords have their profits tucked into the P1B wholesale price so the total amount of profits going into the pockets of people in the trade reaches about P700M a day. Lets be conservative and bring that down to half a billion pesos a day — gross profit. How much of that goes to “protection money” expense? Lets say half of that or 250M Pesos a day goes to people that are able to shield the drug lords and pushers from the law. Who are the recipients of this “protection money” or put another way, who are in a position to give “protection” to the drug lords? Logically, “protection” can only come from people in power: politicians, law enforcers, judges or, in other words, top officials of all three branches of government including the police and the military. Again, we repeat, that’s 250M Pesos a day to pay-off various government officials every single day! That’s enough to give 50 Governors, 50 Mayors, 50 PNP and AFP Officers, 50 Congressmen, 10 Senators, 10 Cabinet Secretaries, 20 Judges, and 10 Generals P1M A DAY — P1M each a day!! You can juggle the hypothetical numbers around — increase the number of this group by subtracting from that group or bring down the amount of P1M to half a million Pesos a day but distributed to twice that number of officials, or however you want to “disburse” the P250M a day — remember, A DAY! The point is, there is enough to go around to bribe a very large number of very high government officials with big sums of money to look the other way to ensure the continued trade of this highly addictive drug that is tearing at the very fabric of our society, and assuring that our growth as a nation remains stunted. And the demand for this drug from all sectors of society (the poor buy P100 bags– tingi) keeps on growing as our population increases. Meanwhile, profits from the drug continue to grease the palms of our officials guaranteeing a future that sees no end to this national scourge…until it will be too late. We are entering the 25th year since Shabu found its way into the Philippines and we have seen how it has grown from a few hundred users to hundreds of thousands to the monster that it is now. This is no longer just a legal, moral, or “narco-politics” issue involving officials in all levels of government not to mention a generation of drug addicts; it involves the economic, social, psycho-physical, and even spiritual growth and well being of a whole people – the Filipino people. As Churchill said: “Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have.” What opium did to China (no thanks to England), Shabu can do to the Philippines if it has not done so already or will soon do.