Tatsulok: The Structure of Drug Elites and Drug Pushers

‘Tatsulok’ is a song composed and performed by Buklod. It was originally written in 1989 by Rom Dongeto, one half of the duo Buklod (the other person is Noel Cabangon). (Iirc, the original album where Tatsulok came from is the same one that gave us Kanlungan). During this period, the political system of the Philippines is very oppressive – due to Martial Law. The song was referring to the then well-known feud between the Marcos (red) and Aquino (yellow) supporters: the real enemy is not the opposite faction, but those who are in power regardless of their ostensive political colors.

The song was revived by Bamboo in 2008, wherein it is still representing the socio-political pyramid of power in the Filipino society. ‘Til at this moment, the song clearly characterizes the current image of our country – the Drug Lords, Drug Protectors, Police Vigilantes on the top; and the common drug users and drug pushers at the very bottom.

The first part of the song, which states that a little boy named ‘Totoy’, must evade the bombs and bullets headed in his direction. Totoy is the symbol of the ordinary masses, the criminals who are also the victims of this social structure. This pyramid symbolizes the power wherein those elite drug lords benefit a big amount of money by selling drugs, while the poor citizens became drug addicts and their lives turn into a miserable one. Even though these drug lords are now detained in jail, they’re still living their life to the fullest, their money and properties are still with them. That’s why when there’s a raid in their ‘kubol’ or detention cell in BJMP, the government confiscates many things from them, such as gadgets, luxury appliances, sex toys, and even pets. Meanwhile, the masses who suffer from drug addiction appears to be killed on-site by the Vigilantes.

It is sad to think that their fate is very miserable. The authorities told the public that they have said to be ‘nanlaban’ though it is clear that there is an abuse in police power. They have to end the life of someone who isn’t yet proven guilty of reproducing drugs. There’s an injustice; the due process of law is violated; their right to defend themselves are eliminated as well.

From the very start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign on fighting drugs, I really doubt his ways on how his administration can end it in three to six months time. There’s still a mystery on how these drug pushers were killed subsequently, telling they are ‘nanlaban umano’. I do not believe that the stability of country’s security and peace can be attained in this way. As long as the elite drug lords are still operating in our society, the problem on drugs continues to exist. As the song I’ve mentioned says, “Habang may tatsulok, at sila ang nasa tuktok – ‘di matatapos itong gulo.”

— assignment in “Introduction to Media Writing”


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