MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) said critics of the administration’s anti-drug campaign should look at the bigger picture, after Senator Panfilo Lacson said he found the PNP’s anti-drug drive ‘lacking’ in many ways.
PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos in his press briefing on Wednesday said that there are many things to consider in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, like the fact government’s efforts to convince drug dependents to surrender and get rehabilitated.
“Nandun tayo sa pakikipag-usap sa tao na biktima ng droga na sila ay tumigil at nakumbinse natin sila so how many of them surrendered and we tried to bring the help of the government to give them a new life ‘di ba?” Carlos said.
“You go back to the real numbers. ‘Yon ‘yong magsasalita, eh. And then we continue to conduct operations pertaining to the supply reduction […] may nakikita pa ba kayo ditong laboratoryo? From 2016, you make a good assessment,” he added.
He also assured that PNP is doing its part on implementing the anti-drug program.
“Kami po we’re doing our part. Kung nagkulang based on the assessment, let’s look at it at the end of the day, meaning at the end of the administration,” he noted.
Carlos’ comments came after Lacson, a presidential candidate and a former PNP chief, lambasted the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs in his interview with Boy Abunda last Monday.
“Ang isang pagkakamali na nakita ko sa pagpapatupad ng anti-illegal drug campaign ng gobyernong ito, na-focus sa law enforcement, nakalimutan ‘yong prevention, nakalimutan ‘yong rehabilitation,” Lacson said, when asked about his plans for the anti-drug campaign.
While he urged critics to look at the bigger picture, Carlos said he respects Lacson’s observation, adding that the PNP is willing to cooperate him for inputs.
“If there will be inputs that would help us, we will welcome it and continue this campaign against illegal drugs hindi po ito laban ng pulis, hindi po ito laban lang ng PDEA, laban ho ng bawat Pilipino,” he said.
“I respect the statement or the observation of the good senator. Kung nagkulang o hindi we are doing our best,” he explained, adding that the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) are in coordination.
The issue of illegal drugs has been a controversial issue in the Duterte administration.
As of October 2021, anti-drug operations have led to the 6,215 deaths.
The government has maintained no involvement in alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the war against drugs, with Duterte previously saying that warring drug gangs were behind the deaths.
However, several critics of the government have blamed Duterte for the human rights abuses and the killings, filing a case against him for alleged crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
According to the petitioners, Duterte violated Article 7 of the Rome Statute for widespread and systematic attacks in the form of murder of thousands of civilians. Last June 2021, former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that she found reasonable basis to believe that state actors were responsible for extrajudicial killings.
Then in September 2021, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber announced that they have approved Bensouda’s request for judicial authority to proceed with a probe on Duterte.
With reports from Jericho Zafra, trainee.