Tuesday, August 2, 2016

SHABU in the Philippines and Duterte

The purpose of this article is to shed light on what is shabu, the drug menace that is in the center of the chaos and fear gripping many communities in the country.  Research was done informally online and references are provided on the text whenever possible.

Currently the drug known as SHABU is the center of the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration. This chemical substance had been demonized in the press beyond belief. The campaign has caused the death of many person .

The campaign has blurred the basic tenets of human rights, “the right to life of everyone”. All the victims of the executions were deprived of their rights guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines to “due process of law”, and certainly, many were accused as “instant drug pushers” and were executed by persons who wanted to get back on their enemies by taking advantage of the campaign that provides them immunity from criminal liability. This “new found power” of our law enforcers and the public “with guns and capability” is almost absolute, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The executions and verbal authority given by the Presidents to law enforcers or the Police is bordering tyranny, and encourages the public “with guns and capability” to lawlessness.  The current situation if not controlled and if extended beyond the target of 6 months could rim, perhaps, led the country to anarchy.

The basics of social order: the right to life; the guarantees provided by the constitution to “due process of law” to its people; and, partially honest, and partially non-corrupted police force that painstakingly took decades to be reformed by the past four administrations through costly programs; and a responsible public “with guns and capability” were corrupted, dishonored and sacrificed by this administration in the guise of eradicating drug use in the country. 

Let us hope that sanity would return in 6 months’ time; if not, at the very least, the responsible, educated, and the public conscience of this country awakens from this folly, that the end (in reality there is no end to this campaign as no country has succeeded not even the mighty and technologically advanced USA) never justifies the means, and wrong cannot be solve by doing more wrongs. 


Shabu is also known as Methamphetamine Hydrochloride. Methamphetamine (contracted from N-methylamphetamine) is a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, it has many medical uses but is popularly used as a recreational drug and as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity (Wikipedia).

In the United States, methamphetamine hydrochloride, under the trade name Desoxyn, has been approved by the FDA for treating ADHD and obesity in both adults and children. As of today, in the United States, millions of prescriptions for the legal form of methamphetamine hydrochloride are given by health professional to its patients.  Methamphetamine is prescribed off label for narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia among many other many disorders. Further, in the United States and in many other countries (apparently excluding the Philippines), methamphetamine's levorotary form is available in some over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant products (Wikipedia). As of January 2013, the Desoxyn trademark had been sold to Italian pharmaceutical company Recordati.


NO. Shabu is not dangerous. It is no less than dangerous than sugar, salt, or milk. On the other hand, Muriatic Acid commonly sold in the supermarkets and grocery stores; and Sodium cyanide, a pesticide commonly sold in agricultural shops in the Philippines are a thousand fold more dangerous than shabu.


Shabu is illegal because the Congress of the Philippines, the law making body of the country, passed a law declaring trade, manufacture, and (non-sequitorially) its use as illegal. The law is known as The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act No. 9165. Our congress passed the law to meet international conventions and agreements; this is because the country is a party to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, a United Nations treaty designed to control psychoactive drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and psychedelics signed in Vienna, Austria on 21 February 1971.


Ephedrine is a highly sought-after chemical precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, and lobbyists of the massive and rich pharma industry in 1998 recommended ephedrine for control under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 (Convention on Psychotropic Substances - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm).

However, many interests group resisted. The Dietary Supplement Safety and Science Coalition lobbied against control, stressing the drug's history and safety, and arguing that "ephedrine is not a controlled substance in the US in 1998, nor should it be internationally". Partial victory was won by the resistance; after a two-year debate, the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence decided against regulating ephedrine (Convention on Psychotropic Substances - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm).

Victory did not last long. The resistance was outwitted. The Commission on Narcotics Drugs and the International Narcotics Control Board listed the drug as a Table I precursor under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, a move that did not require WHO approval. As such, country’s party to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971were required to pass laws regulating ephedrine and methamphetamine (Convention on Psychotropic Substances - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.htm).

However, many countries including the USA, although parties to the convention and passed laws regulating ephedrine and methamphetamine found a way to punch hole to the use of ephedrine and methamphetamine by way of passing a law allowing a “legal” form of ephedrine and methamphetamine to be in the market. The Pharma industry now profited from its lobbying by manufacturing these legal forms on different brand names. In the United States and in many other countries (apparently excluding the Philippines), methamphetamine's levorotary form is available in some over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant products like Desoxyn and many other brand names (Wikipedia).

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