Duterte’s drug war is ‘pro-life,’ says PDEA chief
President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, which has been labelled by a human rights group as a “crime against humanity,” puts a premium on the value of human lives, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Friday.
PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña came to the defense of Duterte as he drew heavy criticism, even from the international community, for waging a brutal war against drugs.
Recently, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Duterte was responsible for over 7,000 killings committed during his six-month drug war with the Philippine police as frontliners. Duterte suspended the police’s drug war towards the end of January and tapped PDEA to lead antinarcotics operations.
“Contrary to public notion that the campaign is promoting extra-judicial killings, PDEA is not in the business to take shortcuts to bring drug suspects to justice,” Lapeña said in statement.
“Human life is precious and as law enforcers, we are duty bound to protect it. However, taking human life is not the intent of anti-drug operations. These incidences of death are results of violent actions of drug pushers towards law enforcers during lawful arrests,” Lapeña said.
“(L)ike any other war, it has disastrous effects on both the combatants-drug law enforcement officers and drug personalities, and civilians. The risk of losing lives is one of them,” Lapeña said.
Lapeña, former head of Duterte’s security team, defended law enforcers, saying that under international law they are allowed to “deliberately take life where there is absolute necessity to defend themselves.”
Of the 7,000 deaths, 2,555 individuals died in anti-drug operations. Police said these suspects resisted arrest which was why they were killed.
Lapeña also hit back at the religious sector for “openly criticizing” the rampant drug killings.
“According to them, a good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong,” he said.
He said the government’s solutions do not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers.
“If we consent or allow the killings, we shall also be responsible for their deaths. The act of using dangerous drugs is a violation of the anti-drug. However, drug users are never subjected to drug operations or incarcerated for their act. They are instead subjected to treatment and rehabilitation programs to give them second chance in life,” Lapeña said.
The PDEA head also denied that Duterte’s drug war is a war against the poor.
Lapeña said that majority of Filipinos, who are found living below poverty line, are easily lured into illegal drug activities.
“They are the ones caught red-handed selling or possessing illegal drugs and have resisted arrest. We have no other recourse but to use necessary force proportionate to the force they used against us,” he said.
“PDEA respects everyone’s right to life. However, without hesitation, we would breach that right in order to safeguard the lives of others,” he said.
The government forces are not the real killers but illegal drugs, Lapeña said, “because they destroy a person’s mind, body and spirit.”/rga
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