By Genalyn Kabiling
Buoyed by the poll results showing public support for the drug war, Malacañang is counting on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to zero in on the arrest of drug lords and narco-politicians and interdiction of illegal drugs in the country.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said they are pleased with the survey results and hope the government’s “new” anti-drug campaign would continue to secure “near-universal support.”
“With the return of anti-narcotics operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), we expect the focus to shift to arrests of drug lords and narco-politicians, the interdiction of smuggled or locally made drugs, and the prevention and rehabilitation of addiction,” he said.
Abella said they expect PDEA, recently designated by President Duterte as the lead agency in the anti-drug operations, to collaborate with local government units, Church, civil society and community groups in these endeavors.
“This new campaign against drugs will hopefully continue to win near-universal support, while addressing the public’s concern over unlawful suspect deaths,” he added.
A Pulse Asia survey recently showed that majority of Filipinos still support the administration war on illegal drugs but believe extrajudicial killings were happening.
Reacting to the survey results, Abella said public support for the drug war showed the people appreciate the government’s efforts to reduce crime and “make the streets safer and the communities more peaceful.”
He said they also understand why respondents think EJKs were happening given the media coverage of the teen killings in Caloocan during the survey period.
“These suspicions however must always be validated by investigation and evidence, and that is the job of the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS), as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), if ordered to investigate such incidents,” he said.
On survey respondents’ concern that the killing of Kian delos Santos may happen to them or to someone they know, Abella said such sentiment was understandable.
“We also share the concern of many Filipinos over unlawful killings possibly perpetrated in the anti-drug campaign,” he said.
“As we have previously said, even one death is one too many. The President has made it absolutely clear that killing unarmed suspects who do not resist arrest is never allowed and will be punished,” he added.
President Duterte earlier directed the PDEA to the lead the government’s anti-drug operations following criticisms over the alleged abuses in deadly police raids.
The President said he hoped to satisfy the “bleeding hearts” and other critics of the drug war by removing the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the picture. The PNP however would maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities, he added.
Duterte said he would also no longer interfere with the drug war as he warned of “grave consequences” now that PDEA was leading the anti-drug efforts.
Tags: anti-drug campaign, extrajudicial killings, Kian Delos Santos, Manila Bulletin, Palace counting on PDEA to zero in on arrest of drug lords narco-politicians, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Pulse Asia survey