PRESIDENT Duterte wants illegal drugs, including shabu that had been seized during operations and currently stored by the government, to be destroyed by next week to prevent them from being recycled and peddled in public.
“I want all the shabu residual or otherwise, however minimal, destroyed, the whole of it by next week. You have so many days to do it one week. Do it in one week. Destroy and get specimen,” the President said in his weekly public address, his order addressed to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the PNP.
Officials of both agencies vowed to comply with Duterte’s order.
The PDEA, headed by Wilkins Villanueva, said: “The PDEA will comply with the order of President Duterte to destroy all shabu evidence, residual or otherwise by next week… In the meantime we can destroy more or less one ton of shabu.”
PNP chief Camilo Cascolan said the President was right to order to destruction of the recovered drugs “to minimize, if not stop, the recycling” of the contraband. “They should be destroyed immediately,” he said.
Cascolan said he had discussions with Villanueva about two weeks ago about the destruction of the drugs after their recovery. “Actually within three days, they should be burned, that’s our discussion.”
Duterte also expressed hope the Supreme Court would support his directive to have the seized items “accounted for accurately” and “destroyed” to avoid the practice of stealing and recycling the illegal substance.
The PDEA said it is “following up” the issuance of court orders for the destruction of the drug evidence pursuant to a circular issued by Supreme Court Administrator last July.
The circular reminded judges to strictly comply with the requirements of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act which says the courts shall inspect the confiscated, seized or surrendered drugs within 72 hours, upon filing of the case, and proceed with the destruction 24 hours thereafter.
Duterte said there are cases where some anti-drug operatives underreported the amount of seized substance, claimed that it had been stolen from their storage or completely do not report the matter to be able to resell the illegal substance.
When he ran for president in 2016, Duterte vowed to solve the drug problem within six months of his term but later claimed that he would work towards the lessening of the drug problem before his term ends.
The President, in the same address, said he never killed anyone despite his previous claims of killing individuals during his term as Davao City mayor, and his repeated threats to kill those that would destroy his country and its youth.
“Wala ho akong pinatay na tao. Never, never. Magtanong ka sa pulis dito sa Pilipinas (I did never killed any people Never, never. You can ask the police here in the Philippines),” he said.
He issued the statement as he vowed to ensure the rule of law is implemented regardless of who is involved. He was talking of the calls for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to resign when he mentioned the rule of law.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima, however, slammed Duterte for denying his reported involvement in extrajudicial killings in the country in connection with the war on drugs.
In a dispatch from Camp Crame where she has been detained since February 2017 for illegal drugs charges, De Lima said Duterte’s denial was outweighed by his speech in September 2018 when he admitted that his only sin was his involvement in EJKs or extrajudicial killings.
“At ‘di ba sa kanya na rin galing, EJKs is his only sin? Walang duda, except that it’s not his only sin (And isn’t it that it came from him that EJKs is his only sin? There’s no doubt about it, except that it’s his only sin),” De Lima said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President was “speaking from the heart” when he claimed that he never killed anyone.
Roque believes the previous pronouncement of Duterte that he killed someone in the past was just part of the “colorful words” of a politician.
“Alam ninyo po kasi, ang mga pulitiko may mga sasabihin iyan because they know, patok.
Pero mayroon din silang mga sinasabi na alam nila na ito ang pawang katotohanan. So bagama’t ang Presidente po ay makulay sa kaniyang pananalita, it is to actually generate attention and discussion lalung-lalo na pagdating sa kaniyang pet issue, iyong anti-drugs campaign (You know, some politician will say something because they know that it will be a hit (with the public) but there are some who say something because they know the truth. So while the President has a colorful language, it is to actually generate attention and discussion for his pet issue, the anti-drugs campaign)” he said.
PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu said the PNP will comply with the President’s directive but said there is a process that should be observed. He said the process includes coordination with the PDEA.
“The President has spoken and that’s the President. The Chief Executive has spoken already and we have to comply. We will comply but we have to follow a process,” said Yu.
“It (compliance) must be immediate. There should be an audit,” Yu also said, adding the PNP needs to sit down with other concerned agencies to ensure compliance with the directive.
De Lima said Duterte keeps on denying that human rights are blatantly violated under his administration but the daily occurrences show otherwise.
“Duterte denies stories about people being harassed, oppressed, and killed under his watch. But dead bodies don’t lie, especially dead bodies of children,” she added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said while the President may be partly right in saying that drug syndicate members kill each other but it cannot be discounted that a number of law enforcers also kill drug users and pushers for various reasons.
“That may be partly true. Just like different drug syndicates in other parts of the world, when their ‘business competition’ reaches ‘cutthroat levels’ they literally cut the throats of their competitors. However, it cannot also be denied that rogue members of the law enforcement resort to killing drug suspects for various reasons, as already validated when the Senate conducted inquiries sometime ago,” Lacson said. – With Victor Reyes and Raymond Africa