(TRIBUNE) Man at the Market Jesse E.L. Bacon II - It is a fact that when illegal trade becomes a multimillion-peso, if not multibillion-peso undertaking, its success, more often than not, is achieved through the protection of people in government tasked to track down those engaged in such illegal trade.

Gambling, illegal drugs, smuggling, carnapping and kidnapping become lucrative only when those behind these illegal activities get to enjoy the protection of the authorities. Realistically, any of these illegal trades will never flourish into multi-million enterprises if those tasked to stamp them out will just do their job. Sadly, however, instead of running after those syndicates into any of the illegal trades, unscrupulous elements in government such as those in the uniformed services end up as conspirators to these syndicates.

And if those in government tasked to put an end to these nefarious trades do not end up being gobbled up by the syndicates involved in them, usually they get bribed, which explains their inability or lack of determination to enforce the law. If the authorities down in the barangay level will just perform their assigned task, no illegal trade can ever take root in our society.

It is precisely because the government at the barangay level failed to do its job that syndicates behind any of these illegal trades become more resolved in pursuing their illegal activities. If those officials in the barangay only become more vigilant and more aggressive in their campaign against all forms of illegal trade, no illegal trader can ever exist in their respective jurisdictions.

Barangay officials are expected to know every nook and cranny of their barangay. They are also expected to know every member of their barangay. It is precisely because of this that when we look for somebody in the barangay, we just go directly to the barangay hall to inquire where the person we are looking for actually resides in the barangay. And the officials in the barangay are expected to give us the needed information.

It is even expected that barangay officials know the job or livelihood undertaking of each barangay member. They ought to know who are engaged in financially productive undertakings and who are not. If the barangay officials have this information at the tip of their fingers, then they would know who are into something that is against the law.

Unfortunately, barangay officials are more preoccupied with matters other than what they should be doing. You go to a barangay and ask for information from its officials, you will just be frustrated because they cannot give you the information you need. In our country, the sloppiness of law enforcement starts in the barangay.

But the Department of Interior and Local Government that has supervision over the barangay as the smallest governmental unit under our polity seems not to be bothered by this. So instead of strengthening the barangay for law enforcement and the delivery of basic public services, the barangay is used for partisan political purposes. This is unfortunate because the barangay should have been insulated from such partisan political activities precisely because its reason for being is not for partisan purposes.

Illegal gambling has for its immediate patrons -- the barangay residents as well as illegal drugs. Inexplicably, however, the barangay officials where these twin illegal activities occur do not know of its existence in their own jurisdiction. Even the existence of illegal drug laboratories are not known to barangay officials and this is very odd.

Can you believe that those barangay officials where the safe houses of the Dominguez carnapping syndicate were located did not even know that the numerous luxury vehicles parked in those safe houses were stolen? And this is also true of warehouses of smuggling syndicates and even the safe houses of kidnapping syndicates. The last to know about the existence of these warehouses and safe houses in the barangay are its very own officials. How unbelievable but this is true only in the Philippines.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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