IN seeming defiance of the instructions of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Ilegal Drugs (ICAD), Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go yesterday told anti-narcotics agents to engage and kill drug users and pushers, if necessary.
Go said anti-illegal drugs operatives should be more concerned with their safety if they are confronted by violent drug industry players.
“Iisipin ng pulis hindi sila dapat bumaril dahil ‘papagalitan tayo kapag napatay natin.’ Mga pulis, unahin nyo po ang sarili nyo, may mga pamilya rin kayo. Suportado namin kayo ni Pangulong Duterte basta in line of duty. Ayaw namin na mga pulis ang nakabulagta dyan.
(A cop might think that he will be scolded if he fires his gun and kill a criminal. Let me remind policemen to always put yourself above all other things, you have your families. I and President Duterte fully support you as long as you will kill in the line of duty. We don’t like to see dead cops during operations),” Go said.
Go issued the statement amid a new “zero deaths” policy being pushed by Robredo in the government’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
The neophyte senator, a long-time aide of President Duterte, insisted deaths cannot be avoided in the drug war because drug users and pushers usually react violently during anti-narcotics operations.
He likewise reiterated a directive from the President that he would rather see dead users and pushers of prohibited drugs rather than policemen once operations become aggressive.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Vice President does not need additional budget for the drug rehabilitation and prevention phase in the government’s drug war strategy since a number of agencies under the ICAD already have sufficient funds for such programs.
Sotto said it is best if Robredo first check the budget allotted to the agencies under the ICAD and determine how they were utilized in the past years.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Robredo is free to seek the help and support of the United States if she feels that it would boost the country’s war on illegal drugs.
Panelo, however, said that as far as he knows, the US is already helping.
“If she feels makakatulong ang Amerika sa drug war… Dati pa naman tumutulong ang Amerika sa atin (If she feels that America can help in the drug war… But I think America has long been helping us),” he said.
The Vice President over the weekend said she intends to talk with officials of the US and the United Nations (UN) about efforts to improve the country’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Robredo, in the past, had been open to cooperating with a UN investigation on the drug war, a move opposed by Malacañang.
Robredo revealed on Monday that she had met with a representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and would soon release the details about their meeting.
Panelo reiterated that Robredo should be allowed to do her work and to come up with strategies and plans that she thinks would help improve the anti-drug campaign of government.
He, however, maintained that the administration is against a possible visit of UN officials led by special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and investigators from the International Criminal Court.
He also declined to comment on the offer of Rights Watch in Asia’s Phelim Kine to hep Robredo improve the drug war by starting with the “Arrest #Duterte and his henchmen for inciting & instigating mass murder (arrest hashtag Duterte and his henchmen for inciting and instigating mass murder)” campaign. – With Jocelyn Montemayor