Isko Moreno to continue war on drugs sans ‘tokhang’
MANILA, Philippines — Law enforcers will not be allowed to knock on doors of drug suspects unless they have a search or arrest warrant, Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso assured Wednesday, effectively putting an end to the controversial “Oplan Tokhang” if ever he will be elected as the country’s next president.
“As long as there is search warrant and warrant of arrest. Under the law you can do that any time of the day. As I have said, tuloy ang war on drugs, tapos kikilalanin natin yung mga batas na umiiral at yun ang ipatutupad natin,” Moreno said in an interview in Pilar, Bataan before the start of the motorcade going to Balanga City where he paid a courtesy visit to Bishop Ruperto Cruz Santos of the Diocese of Balanga.
The 47-year-old presidential candidate made the pronouncement when asked if he will continue “Oplan Tokhang” as part of his war against illegal drugs if he becomes president.
Under Oplan Tokhang, which translates to knock and plead, authorities visit suspected drug users’ homes and ask them to stop using illegal drugs. Tokhang, however, drew criticisms because of thousands of killings, mostly of small-time users in impoverished areas.
But more than going after users and street-level pushers, Moreno said he will focus government resources to go after the big-time distributors of the illegal substance.
“Basta ako, tuloy-tuloy lang yung war on drugs. At ito yung war on drugs kung saan hindi natin tino-tolerate yung pagbebenta ng droga. But the thing is we must go to the source. Tayo, we’ll go after the source,” stressed the Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet.
While President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war has stopped syndicates from manufacturing illegal drugs in the country, Moreno noted that the Philippines remain to be flooded with illegal substances.
“If it is true na wala ng manufacturing dito, ibig sabihin pumapasok ito sa mga borders natin. Malamang yan kasama yan sa mga smuggling ng mga produkto sa ating bansa. At pumapasok sa atin, kung dati nakakagawa sila isang kilo, dalawang kilo lang sa isang planta, e ngayon kung makapagpasok sila, tone-tonelada,” he pointed out.
“So, there must be something wrong with our port of entry, whether it is air or water. And remember we are an archipelagic country, and we don’t have enough resources na bantayan ang 7,000 mahigit na isla ng ating bansa. So most likely dito siya pumapasok. So kailangan nating bantayan, kailangang higpitan,” said Moreno.
Among the things Moreno intends to do to address the issue once elected is to appoint a retired Navy flag officer who has the expertise in guarding the country’s borders and preventing the entry of illegal drugs as Defense secretary.
The Manila city mayor also wants to strengthen the capabilities of the Navy and the Coast Guard in terms of ships, personnel and firepower to serve both objectives.
At the same time, the Moreno administration will also adopt a public health approach in the drug war to rehabilitate chronic drug dependents and prevent relapses.
“Papangalagaan natin yung mga nabiktima ng droga, I mean, health-wise. Doc Willie said it already,” said Moreno.
Aksyon Demokratiko vice presidential candidate Dr. Willie Ong has always maintained that drug dependency is a public health issue and should thus be addressed in a science-based approach.
“Our focus should be science-based. We need to lessen the stigma on users, increase the free medicines because there are medicines to cure or solve addiction,” he said Saturday during CNN Philippines’ Vice Presidential Debate.
“Hindi puwede ‘yung ikukulong, tapos pagbalik, magiging adik sila ulit. Paparamihin ‘yung psychologist, psychiatrist at ililibre ‘yung mga gamot dito,” the 58-year-old cardiologist and internist said.
If elected president, Moreno vowed to wage a national anti-drug campaign that is based on the rule of law and due process, similar to what he has been doing in the Philippine capital for over two years now.
It would be noted that in Manila’s anti-drug campaign, 97 percent of drug suspects arrested were captured alive because Moreno does not tolerate extra-judicial killings.
“There are no EJKs in Manila. Unless the suspects threatened the lives of our policemen, the suspects were properly apprehended and that their human rights were respected in the process of the entire drug operations,” Moreno said.
“Eliminating drugs is a priority, but it has to be done in recognition still of every individual’s human rights. I believe that human rights are fundamental and that every person has the right to defend themselves before the courts,” he said.
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