By Jocelyn Montemayor and Victor Reyes
WITH barely two years left in office, President Duterte yesterday said his orders in connection with the war against illegal drugs have not changed – solve the illegal narcotics problem and leave behind a drug-free Philippines.
The President, during the destruction of P7.51 billion worth of illegal drugs in Trece Martires in Cavite, said the government had accomplished a lot in the four years of his term but the campaign should be sustained to “accomplish more in the next years to come.”
Duterte said he is not dissuaded by the continued criticisms from different human rights advocates as he reassured members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the police that he would always have their back and assume responsibility should they be charged in connection with their fulfillment of duty.
“To this day, I say to the human rights, I don’t give a s*** with you. My order is still the same,” he said, as he reiterated that he is angry because of the people who are victimized by the users and pushers and the enforcers who are killed for fulfilling their duties.
He said members of different law enforcement groups should continue to “do your duty. Do it in accordance with law but be alert and be wise.”
He also said they should not mind human rights groups who are “preoccupied with the health and life of the criminals who are the drug pushers and the drug lords.”
The President said everyone involved in the campaign should work even harder not only to suppress the supply of narcotics in our streets but to prevent our country from being used as a trans-shipment point for illegal drugs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Duterte said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals involved in illegal drugs have not ceased their nefarious activities.
“We must, therefore, remain steadfast in our campaign not only by intensifying our operations against drug trafficking, but also by reforming our criminal justice system and addressing the root cause of drug abuse and dependency,” he said.
“I am asking the brave men and women of our law enforcement agencies, the prosecution service, and the judiciary to never waver in their difficult yet rewarding task. We already accomplished a lot in the past four years, and we can accomplish more in the next years to come. Ending illegal drug trade means securing the future of our nation. Together, let us make a drug-free Philippines the greatest legacy that we can leave behind to our children and the succeeding generations,” the President added.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Wilkins Villanueva said the agency is “slowly but surely” eliminating the illegal drug problem in barangays under the government’s war on drugs.
Villanueva said he remains true to his commitment to the President, when he assumed command as PDEA chief last May, “to clear all barangays of illegal drugs” through the barangay drug clearing program.
He said a total of 20,538 barangays have been cleared of illegal drugs from July 2016 to October 31 this year. Yet to be cleared are 14,300 barangays.
Destroyed during yesterday’s ceremony were 1.33 tons of assorted drugs, worth P7.51 million, confiscated during past operations. The destroyed illegal drugs were mostly shabu, weighing 1.07 tons worth P7.31 billion.
The incinerated drugs included the 240 kilos of shabu seized during a controlled delivery operation in Cabanatuan City last October 30. The operation led to the arrest of two suspected Chinese drug traffickers.