By Genalyn Kabiling
Some countries have started to consider the Philippines as a “model” in combating the drug menace, despite criticisms thrown by some groups at the Duterte administration, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the government’s war on drugs has become “hugely successful” that some neighbors even intend to deploy “observers” to the country.
“Let us not underestimate the success of the President in the war against drugs. In fact, other countries now look to us as a model,” Roque said during a press conference in Cebu City last Sunday night.
“Just a few days ago, President Trump himself declared his own version against war, his own war against drugs. And other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries are also sending their observers here to find out exactly what steps we are taking that have led to our success in this war against drugs,” he said.
In sharing the country’s best practices, Roque said the President has used “tremendous political will” to address the drug problem, making it a national priority.
“This is the first time really that we have waged a campaign of this magnitude. And in fact, until the administration of President Duterte came along, we hardly felt that there was any importance ‘no or that they considered the drug problem as a priority,” he said.
“It’s only under the administration of President Duterte that we have number one, given a priority to this problem; and number two, used the tremendous political will in countering these problems,” he said.
So far, Roque said the local drug crackdown has resulted in the arrests of thousands of drug suspects. Public support for the drug war also remained high despite allegations of rights abuses by some groups, he added.
“To begin with, despite criticisms, the war on drugs has been hugely successful.
I think we are witness to the number of drug personalities that have already been arrested. They now number into the thousands,” he said.
He said the price of shabu has skyrocketed amid the government’s intensified anti-drug efforts, making it unaffordable to many people. He said this was “proof that supply has been curtailed as the result of the war against drugs.”
Roque said he has not been to any place in the country without residents being “happy” with the drug war since their communities have become peaceful.
“To me it’s unfortunate that people know that there are EJK’s and despite this knowledge, you know, the support for the war against drugs is still at 88 percent,” he said.
The President earlier waged an aggressive campaign against illegal drugs but human rights advocates here and abroad have denounced the soaring number of alleged summary killings and other rights abuses.
The Catholic Church recently led a prayer action seeking the country’s healing from the alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. Several opposition personalities were among those attended the activities held at EDSA Shrine and nearby EDSA 1986 People Power monument.
Roque said the government does not see the Church-led activity as a threat, adding that it joins the Church in praying for the country’s healing.
“As far as the organizers are concerned, they assured the public that it is not political. As in fact, I believe many Catholics went to that gathering knowing that it was a prayer activity and not a political activity,” he said.
Roque reiterated that the President, being a lawyer and former state prosecutor, does not countenance murder and will not tolerate abusive cops.
“He has ordered the police as I have mentioned over and over again to arrest the individuals, the policemen behind the killing of Kian, which is proof that the statement of the President, the policy of the President is that he will back up the police if the killing is a result of legal engagement and will order their arrest otherwise,” he said.
He was referring to the 17-year-old Kian delos Santos who was shot dead during an anti-drug operations in Caloocan City last August. The policemen implicated in the killing have been slapped with criminal charges.