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EDITORIAL - Distractions mar P6.4B shabu case

One would have thought that the P6.4 billion shabu smuggling case would be in the forefront of everything else that the government is doing. It is a case that involves the two elements that gave this very government its being - corruption and illegal drugs, and its vow to stamp them out before 2022 when a new government is sworn in.

Since the shipment's arrival in Manila from China in May and its subsequent seizure in the same month, the case has yet to hurdle the preliminary investigation phase. Judging by its assumed pace, it is extremely doubtful if it can reach the courts by December. In other words, a case that, given its importance, ought to have moved swiftly, is hardly moving at all.

Instead of landing in the courts, it has landed in the worst place it could be - in the Senate, where it is now the subject of so much grandstanding. Worse, it has been hijacked to become the perfect alibi to promote other interests and pursue other objectives. The biggest smuggling attempt involving the biggest threat to the future of this country has transmogrified into a circus of political clowns.

If pursuit of the case led to so many closets potentially containing so many skeletons, there will be a time for a separate reckoning of hiding places and bones. The business at hand - the biggest shabu haul in the history of this country - must be dealt with first. All other concerns need to be addressed later. To get distracted now is to lose a precarious balance from where no one may recover.

It may be tempting to deal with the closets and likely skeletons first. After all, they involve two of the most controversial political stars at present - Rodrigo Duterte and Antonio Trillanes. But if we allow the two to take center stage, we also allow them to distract us from where our undivided attention should be, which is the P5.4 billion shabu shipment.

This is the case that will test our priorities, where they lie, and where we hope they will take us. The quarrel between Duterte and Trillanes, on the other hand, are but old political quarrels that, but for the cast and the plot, carry the same jaded old theme Philippine politics has been known for ages. We need to focus of the shabu case. This is not a bird still in the forest but a bird in the hand. A single misstep or lack of attention and it is gone.

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