Panelo to Bishop David: Now is the time to help not criticize gov’t
MANILA, Philippines—Now is not the proper time to express a “cynical view” against the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs as it is the time to lend a helping hand to those affected by Monday’s powerful quake that shook parts of Luzon, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Caloocan Bishop Virgilio Pablo David said that Duterte’s claim his war on drugs is aimed at stemming the country’s drug problem is the “biggest lie” peddled to Filipinos in the past three years.
Panelo urged David, one of the staunchest critics of the government’s war on drugs, to prioritize quake victims’ “spiritual needs” instead of hurling negative rhetorics against the administration.
“How saddening that a man of the cloak like Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, instead of focusing his attention to the spiritual needs of his flock as well as helping in the rehabilitation of those affected by the earthquake, has opted to unleash a cynical view if not an outright misrepresentation of the President’s war on drugs , saying that ‘the biggest lie is that this drug war is meant to eradicate illegal drugs’,” Panelo said in a statement.
“While it is true that we live in a free and democratic country, where the contradicting even vicious opinion of a minority is given equal, if not more, space to be heard, there is however a time for reflection, introspection, quietude and the extending of hands to help the needy in times of tragedy and crisis. This is one such time,” he added.
Rescuers were scrambling on Tuesday to reach more than 90 people trapped beneath the rubble of a supermarket in Porac, Pampanga province, that collapsed when a 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook Luzon on Monday afternoon. The temblor left at least 16 people dead.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said David should heed the advice of Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle “to just give succor to those affected by the recent earthquake instead of resorting to negative rhetoric against the government.”
The Palace official also defended Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs, saying it has resulted in the arrest and surrender of drug offenders. He added that public satisfaction with the drug war has been “consistently resounding” as shown in the surveys.
“The facts on how the President addresses the problem of illegal narcotics remain exemplary as they are daring even as they are relentless,” he said.
“It is only under this Administration where the real situation on illicit drugs in the country has been exposed in all its ugliness and terrifying magnitude. Its poisonous tentacles are continuously being cut wherever they are found and however they are protected by the merchants of death by the government and its forces,” he added.
A survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that more than six out of ten Filipinos (66%) say that the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased, Panelo said.
Since Duterte took office, 164,265 drug suspects have been arrested, 9,503 barangays cleared from drugs, and P25.19 billion worth of drugs and equipment have been seized, Panelo noted, saying that “these figures are real numbers and unalterable facts that can not be erased even by the magical wand of Bishop David.”
“We, therefore, suggest to Bishop David to go down from the pulpit and listen to the resounding collective voice of his parishioners that he may find their true and genuine sentiments,” he added.
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