By Genalyn Kabiling and Aaron Recuenco
The country’s drug problem has become “enormous, painful, and sorrowful” but resolving it with “brutality and cruelty” will never be allowed, President Duterte has declared.
The President issued the statement after police anti-narcotics agents killed a suspected drug user in a Quezon City buy-bust that also led to the confiscation of some P27 million worth of shabu on Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said the 50-year old suspect identified as Edgardo Labay Alfonso was a high-value target since he was entrusted by his boss to carry four kilos of shabu.
“He was both a courier and player. He was entrusted by the illegal drugs syndicate to deliver huge amounts of shabu. We do not normally confiscate four kilos of shabu in our daily operation so we consider him a high-value target,” said Eleazar.
The President said law enforcement authorities are only authorized to “shoot and kill” if the drug suspects resist arrest and endanger lawmen’s lives.
“Hindi naman trabaho ng gobyerno na nakaupo na ‘yung tao, eh naka-outstretch na nga ‘yung kamay o nakatali, barilin mo. I assure you. Hindi ako papayag nang ganun [It’s not the government’s job to shoot a person when he’s already seated with hands outstretched or bound. I assure you. I will not allow that]. That’s outright brutality at cruelty,” Duterte said before an assembly of outstanding government workers at the Palace on Tuesday.
“Eh ‘yung lumaban, patayin mo, you have my go-signal. Basta lumaban [You have my go signal to shoot if they resist. If they fight back] and you think that your life is in danger, shoot and kill,” he added.
Duterte offered anew to take responsibility for the government’s relentless anti-drug crackdown, saying it was his job to “clean my country.” “Sabi ko sa police, Ubusin na natin para matapos na [I told the police to wipe them out to finally end this] and I will take full responsibility for it,” he said.
He lamented that the drug problem has destroyed many families as millions of Filipinos have become slaves to the illegal substance. “The social dysfunction created by the drug problem is very enormous, painful, and sorrowful for me and for you,” he added.
To those involved in the illegal drug trade, the President urged them to drop the drugs if they want to stay alive. “As an act of self-preservation, sinasabi ko naman drop. Ayaw mong mamatay? [You don’t want to die?] Drop the drug,” he said.
Based on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) data released last July, at least 5,526 drug suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations from July 2016 to June 2019. The government’s data sought to dispel allegations by some groups that the drug war has supposedly caused 27,000 deaths.
The operation stemmed from the report of the illegal activities of Alfonso in some parts of Metro Manila. In the past weeks, police narcotics agents tried to negotiate with him and a few days ago, he agreed to sell some P1.6 million worth of shabu.
The meeting place was in front of a gasoline station at the corner of P. Tuazon Avenue and 18th Avenue in Barangay San Roque in Quezon City.
At around 5 a.m. yesterday, Alfonso showed up but during the transaction he noticed that he was dealing with a cop.
“He suddenly pulled out a firearm from his waist and then a scuffle ensued. The suspect fired successive shots to the undercover agent who immediately fled to avoid being shot,” said Eleazar.
A brief chase then ensued as back up cops protected the police poseur-buyer. Alfonso was cornered along Del Pilar Street.