For Whom the Earth Tolls
Where do we find a place where there is no utter lack of anything that would fulfill all human needs and noble intentions?
Solace and serenity have become two of the most sought after events for the human spirit in a fast-paced urban world of uncontrolled frenzy—the extreme busyness of life—in megacities bursting at their seams with people teeming to fulfill their dreams, desires, needs and cravings.
Have the classic ideals of men and civilizations been derailed by the burgeoning social malaise of today that has crept into all the institutions of society? What would you make of Gustavo Pietro’s statement when he said, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” It is a sudden realization that “development” is not all about material acquisition, but a sense of responsible participation in the process of human evolution as well.
Have we lost our sense of sanity in the face of gross impunity? Have we lost our personal sense of responsibility over anything that we decide to do? Have we become the victims of the very core of human development that seeks to attain equality and eliminate inequity?
Guns, Drugs, Assault Crimes and Homicides
In a survey of the largest civilian firearm arsenals for 178 countries known as the Small Arms Survey of 2007, the USA leads the rank by rate of ownership with an average of 89 firearms per 100 people, followed by Yemen with 55. In 2007, the first 10 countries with the highest number of civilian firearm arsenals were USA, Yemen, Switzerland, Finland, Serbia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Uruguay and Sweden. The ranking is based on guns per capita.
Two of the four most common crimes occurring in the world today are assault and the use of illegal drugs according to lawfuel.com. Assault implies the use of guns or bladed weapons, but the most common are guns. The other two most common crimes are theft and traffic violations.
Globalissues.org reports that about 200,000 people are killed every year of which 90 percent of the casualties are caused by small arms.
It is difficult to ascertain the average number of unlicensed, unregistered, illegal firearms in private hands in many countries since people can buy guns outside the official, monitored gun sales outlets. These “loose firearms” represent the dark side of gun ownership and even places a greater risk to the security of civilians in communities where armed conflict is absent.
The 10 countries with the least number of firearms per 100 people are Tunisia, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, Eritrea, Fiji and Bangladesh. These are generally the relatively peacefully stable countries.
The increasing number of illegal drugs used, combined with the increasing number of gun ownership places livable, peaceful communities at risk.
But the sale of illegal drugs and its use like cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamine and other lethal party drugs could aggravate assault crimes and increase the number of homicides.
In the African region, South Africa led the highest number of homicide rate per 100,000-population in 2004 based on the study of a UN-affiliate group, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control. The BBC reports on South Africa’s craze on heroin-marijuana cocktail, a lethal combination. Heroin and other ingredients are added to marijuana to make nyaope and have victimized the youth of today. The knowledge that cannabis and cocaine are two of the widely used drugs in South Africa is not new, but it supports the observation that the use of prohibited drugs increases the likelihood of violent crimes.
Jamaica is still viewed as the mecca of cannabis culture according to Drug Law Reform in Latin America, an advocacy group. Jamaica is the number one supplier of cannabis to the United States. Cannabis sativa is the common hemp plant, which provides hallucinogens with some sedative properties, and includes marijuana (pot, Acapulco gold, grass, reefer), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, Marinol), hashish (hash), and hashish oil (hash oil). In the study of the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, Jamaica led the highest number of homicide rate per 100,000-population in 2004 for the Central and South American regions.
In terms of gun possession and ownership, without the per capita factor, most guns in private hands, as reported by outdoorhub.com turns into a different statistical configuration where USA has 270 million guns, India (45M), China (40M), Germany (25M), Pakistan (18M), Mexico (15.5M), Brazil (14.84M), Yemen (11.5M), Thailand (10M), Canada (9.95M guns).
Fighting the Drug Menace
At no other time in the history of mankind has had so much resources been spent on prison systems than today that has outweighed the institutions for the mentally ill. In the prisonstudies.org research, the United States of America leads the prison count in terms of ranking, with a staggering 2.217 million prisoners, followed by China with 1.65 million prisoners.
Those countries with less than a million prisoners but above the 500,000 level include the Russian Federation and Brazil. Below the half-a-million level, the rest of the countries of world follow, notably, India, Mexico, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam, Colombia, Philippines and Ethiopia (for prisoner populations above 100,000).
In its report, “The Prison Crisis,” the American Civil Liberties Union notes that from 1978 to 2014, the US prison population has risen 408%. On a positive note, the significant increase is an indication of the success of the rule of law in the US as a real democracy, but also warns us of the dangers of a liberal, abundant lifestyle where personal freedom is cherished in a culture of tolerance.
But a disturbing observation has been noted by a special human care group, the Treatment Advocacy Center when it concluded that in its survey of the states, it found out that “more mentally ill persons are in jails and prisons than hospitals.” It said further, “Using 2004–2005 data not previously published, we found that in the United States there are now more than three times more seriously mentally ill persons in jails and prisons than in hospitals.” (See
Bizarre Prison Anomalies
In the Philippines, the prison blocks have become the haven for the trade of illegal drugs with the discovery of thousands of kilos of the popular drug “shabu.” Aside from drugs, included in the surprise raids conducted by a composite team of Department of Justice personnel, National Bureau of Investigation agents, Bureau of Corrections and Philippine National Police were a cache of assorted brand new short firearms, assault rifles, ammo, drugs paraphernalia and grenades hidden in secret compartments of the congested prison cells—and unbelievably, a stash of large amounts of cash in US dollars and Philippine Pesos.
The almost 12-month search and dismantling process also yielded a host of communications equipment handled by “crime lord” prisoners and their vassals like cell phones, iPhones, iPods, radios, tablets, portable WiFi gadgets, and laptops. All these were imported inside the prison systems in collusion with corrupt jail management personnel.
The situation has become a national irony with a tinge of comic surrealism, and placed the securitization of the national penitentiary in Metropolitan Manila at very high risk. The reason: The New Bilibid Prison has been converted into a one hell of a recycled organized crime syndicate center where some “celebrity” prisoners and their gangs have managed to construct small offices, a Jacuzzi, swimming pool, even a recording studio and a videoke bar in the so-called “untouchable” prison blocks that were embedded with high-tech gadgets, air-conditioning equipment, refrigerators, weapons and other appliances.
Designed to house a maximum of 5,000 inmates, the national penitentiary now houses about 12,000 prisoners. The Philippines is number 14 in rank worldwide in terms of prison population total, with more than 120,000 inmates.
The discovery of the large-scale anomalies in 2015 led to a comprehensive reorganization of the institution. Today, with the replacement of corrupt personnel, the dismantling process is still continuing, but the new management of the Bureau of Corrections is still surprised to discover new finds in terms of illegal drugs, cash, bladed weapons, guns, ammo, and even appliances and sex toys in cleverly hidden areas of the prison blocks.
Earth Speaks: No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. –John Donne