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EDITORIAL - Mocking the law

In this country, it seems you can’t put an accomplished drug dealer down. Yu Yuk Lai, the Taiwanese woman arrested with her nephew William Sy in Manila exactly 19 years ago today, was convicted of drug trafficking in September 2001. From the start, Yu showed the power of drug money in this country.

On trial for a non-bailable offense, Yu was allowed by then Manila Regional Trial Court judge Manuel Muro to be confined in a private hospital. Yu, however, was caught spending the health furlough in a casino and was rearrested. The Supreme Court later sacked Muro from the service. Although the offense covered three kilos of shabu, RTC Judge Teresa Soriaso spared Yu and Sy from death and instead sentenced the two to life in prison. Later, the SC also fired from the service Court of Appeals justice Demetrio Demetria for intervening in the case.

In the following years, published reports said Yu spent much of her supposed incarceration at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong in “confinement” for months on end at the Metropolitan Hospital in Binondo, Manila.

Yesterday before dawn, members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency found Yu, now 72, in her cell at the women’s correctional. But the PDEA reported seizing nearly P4.5 million worth of shabu packed in plastic, jars and 27 panty liners from Yu’s cell, gaily painted in lucky red and pink. 

Yu wasn’t alone in her operations. The PDEA also raided the condominum unit of her daughter Diane Uy in San Miguel, Manila. PDEA officials said they seized P10 million worth of shabu from the apartment, which is within spitting distance of Malacañang.

PDEA agents said Uy tried to bribe them with P5 million. Uy denied this, but it seems her mother has been getting away with bribes for a long time now. How else could Yu have continued her drug trade under the noses of correctional officials and personnel? And why does her daughter have a member of the elite police Special Action Force, PO3 Walter Vidad, serving as bodyguard?

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Yesterday, Elsa Alabado was sacked as officer-in-charge of the correctional institute. Yu Yuk Lai faces 40 years in her original sentence; this latest offense should make her ineligible for pardon. Her daughter, meanwhile, must be prevented from following in the footsteps of the mother. The full force of the law must be applied on Diane Uy, and anyone else who makes a mockery of the justice system.

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