A CATHOLIC Church leader has expressed apprehension on the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to return the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, warning that it may lead to a resurgence of arbitrary killings of suspected drug pushers and users.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-Episcopal Commission on the Laity, stressed that the drug war was better left to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has the proven expertise to handle the country’s drug problem.
“The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is very much capable to contain the illegal drug trade in the country compared to the Philippine National Police,” said Pabillo in an interview over the weekend with the Church-run Radio Veritas.
The PDEA approach, he said, was focused on the suppliers of illegal drugs, while the PNP’s target were the drug users and pushers, which often led to the suspects’ deaths.
Pabillo stressed that PDEA did its job effectively without loss of lives.
“Sinasabi natin na wala naman kapasidad ang PNP para sa pagsugpo ng illegal drugs kaya gumawa ang gobyerno ng PDEA na yan ang kanilang tungkulin at hindi hahabulin hindi yung mga taong maliliit na pagbibitag sa kanila saka papatayin at hindi yung mga suppliers dapat ang hinahabol yung mga suppliers,” the prelate added.
(We’re saying that the PNP does not have the capacity to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs that’s why the government created PDEA, which has that mandate and not to chase after and kill the small people. They should be running after the suppliers.)
He also noted that some 5,000 drug-related killings have been reported by the PNP as “death under investigation” but to date none of them were served justice.
Pabillo expressed belief on allegations that the PNP was not really doing anything to solve the mysterious death of drugs users and pushers in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
On October 10, the President issued a memorandum that transferred leadership of the campaign against illegal drugs to the PDEA from the PNP amid the rise in extrajudicial killings that have been blamed on police operations dubbed “Oplan Tokhang” and “Operation Double Barrel.”
Malacanang said despite the return of the PNP, PDEA would continue to take the lead in drug war. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL