MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said the drug problem is a “never-ending one” that, if not addressed, will bring the country under the hands of narco-politicians. This comes nearly five years after his administration launched a massive battle against illegal drugs.
This was stated by Duterte during the launch of the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers on June 25, which intends to forge a strong collaborative engagement with the community in support of the ongoing campaign against crime and terrorism.
“But if you want to see how it can destroy a country, just look at Mexico, [Sinaloa]. They are the ones who dictate who will run for governor in the local areas, who run for the mayor. It’s narco-politics,” Duterte said this during his remarks at the event hosted by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Since July 1, 2016, drug law enforcement agencies have performed 200,632 anti-illegal drug operations, resulting in the arrest of 289,622 drug dependents and the death of 6,117 persons, according to the government’s #RealNumbersPH data as of April 30 this year.
In addition, operatives seized approximately PHP60 billion worth of illegal drugs, including 7,748 kg of shabu worth PHP48.70 billion, and dismantled 784 drug dens and clandestine laboratories around the country.
“This is the one side story of people said 7,000 killed. Well, that was – five years I started to declare war (against illegal drugs). But the other side is how many policemen and soldiers did I lose? Aplenty,” Duterte said.
He reiterated that he will continue to protect police officers who carry out their jobs in a lawful manner.
“The policemen, do not worry, let me know if that is the case. I will defend you. Ako na mismo (I will) because I gave the lecture and I gave you the guarantee that I will protect you as long as you do your duty in accordance with law,” he said.
“Begging for his life” must be spared
Duterte, however, reminded that anyone who is under arrest and “begging for his life” must be spared.
He stated that responding police officers and drug law enforcers may use their firearms only if the perpetrators demonstrate resistance.
“You are not supposed to kill a person when he is down, crying, kneeling, begging for his life,” Duterte said. “That is the essence of the arrest. If he goes voluntarily with you, good. That would be the ideal arrest. But if they resist arrest violently, then you have every right also to do your thing, commensurate.”
He claims that about 1,000 people are arrested each day for drug-related offenses, resulting in many dysfunctional families across the country.
“And the drugs has continued to be imported, getting inside into our communities and continue to plunder the lives of people and whatever income,” Duterte said. “There are shabu and they continue to number in billions until now. And the human rights are not even worried about home many children would still be destroyed and homes are, I said, rendered dysfunctional.”
During the 2016 election campaign, he promised to confront criminals, illegal drugs, and corruption, among other issues.
‘New batch of heroes’
Duterte expressed gratitude that, while the PNP is doing every effort to halt the rise in violent crimes, private persons are also contributing to the “difficult task of achieving lasting peace across the nation.”
“We cannot overemphasize the valuable role of the PNP in deterring crime and maintaining peace and order in our society. But we cannot also deny the fact that if we are to totally eradicate criminality and terrorism, we need the active participation of our people,” he said.
Moreover, he described the “selfless volunteers” as a “new batch of heroes.”
“I trust your partnership with PNP will remain strong in years ahead. We all have a part in building a better nation. I am pleased to know that you have heeded the quality to serve and improve the quality of life of our people,” Duterte said.