A PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Sunday slammed the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, pointing out that only “small fry” had been killed while police generals linked to big-time traffickers “walk.”
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said he supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, but bewailed the “apparent government-sanctioned extrajudicial killings of mostly small fry.”
“We want all those engaged in the illicit drug trade, big and small, but especially the big ones, captured and locked up. But we cannot tolerate summary executions, especially if all those targeted are mere street-level pushers,” Atienza noted in a statement.
The lawmaker said at least 135 persons, mostly suspected neighborhood pushers, have been killed this month.
“If these victims of extrajudicial killings were really known pushers, then they should have been in jail a long time ago in a corruption-free drug enforcement drive,” Atienza added.
Empirical evidence needed
When asked by reporters why only small-time drug suspects had been captured or killed, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said such claims needed to be supported by “facts, by empirical evidence.”
“As far as we know, the operations of the Philippine National Police have always been in pursuit of peddling or pushing drugs,” he told the government-run Radyo ng Bayan over the weekend.
But there has been “no strong action versus conniving generals” since the President’s revelation that five police generals were protectors of the drug trade, Atienza said.
During the Philippine Air Force anniversary rites last July 4, Duterte named two former and three active officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the top five coddlers of illegal drug rings: retired deputy director general Marcelo Garbo Jr., retired chief superintendent Vicente Loot, Director Joel Pagdilao, Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz and Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio.
“We have to eradicate the big-time traffickers first, as well as their coddlers in law enforcement, if we are to effectively suppress the supply side of the drug problem. We’re afraid getting rid of the easily replaceable smallest players in the supply chain won’t make much of a dent,” Atienza said.