Drug war a ‘failure,’ Lacson says
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the deaths of thousands of Filipinos and the embarrassment of the country before the world community, the government’s war on drugs has been an utter failure, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday.
“Let us not pretend anymore, the drug war really failed because the drugs are still there,” Lacson replied when asked in a radio interview to assess the drug war that resulted in, according to official Philippine National Police data, more than 5,000 deaths.
“If it succeeded, then there should be a significant dent on the drug syndicates,” said Lacson, a former PNP chief. “[But] sad to say, the government’s antidrug efforts have not succeeded. Otherwise, we would have made a big dent in the operations of drug syndicates.”
Lacson made the remarks in the context of the botched antidrug operation of the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that resulted in the death of four people, including two policemen.
“What happened was very sad and should not be allowed to happen again,” Lacson said, referring to the Feb. 24 incident that officials described as a “misencounter.”
“If it’s clear that there was a shortcoming or carelessness when it comes to vetting the informant, then someone should really be held liable. They should not only be relieved but criminal charges should be filed,” he said.
Lacson said one adjustment could involve the PDEA “overseeing” antidrug operations and focusing on intelligence work while leaving the assault operations to specially trained police officers.
“We have to resolve the trust issue between the PNP and the PDEA. But it would be better if the PDEA acted as overseer in antidrug operations, and focus on intelligence-gathering, whether it is technical or human intelligence,” he said.
“In other countries, the output of intelligence work is shared with specially trained police units, with one or two PDEA operatives accompanying or guiding the police force in the operation. That is the ideal situation where coordination is smooth and tight. The last thing we need is the reluctance of our agencies to work together because of what happened,” he added.
Following the clash, Sen. Ralph Recto also renewed lawmakers’ demand that the police use body cameras and dash cams, adding that the Feb. 24 incident was “again a bloody reminder of a missing but vital equipment in policing—video recording devices, especially during operations.”
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