DRUG lords and politicians may be behind the latest “smear attacks” against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Malacañang claimed on Monday.
“They are destroying the administration of the President…Because the war on drugs is the face of the Duterte administration, they are making sure that the welt is on the President. And who are they destroying? The President,” PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa told reporters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In the Palace, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella claimed that some individuals, including politicians, funded the “demolition work” against Duterte in the respected New York Times (NYT), which published a story and an editorial critical of Duterte and his drug war last week.
Abella questioned the NYT’s release in just one week of the news feature “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” which narrated his rise to power under the context of violence; an editorial titled
“Accountability for Duterte”; and the video documentary “When a President Says, I’ll Kill You” highlighting drug-related killings.
“NYT’s very obvious demolition work flies in the face of the very high approval ratings that [President Duterte] enjoys. The newspaper tries to stir global outrage [toward]a nation that welcomes its newfound peace and order,” Abella said.
“One can only conclude that certain personalities and politicians have mounted a well-funded campaign utilizing hack writers and their ilk in their bid to oust [the President],” he added.
Death figures ‘persistent, irritating’
Part of the demolition job, the PNP chief said, was to keep on linking every killing to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“Maybe behind these attacks are the drug lords because their business is the number one affected in the campaign,” de la Rosa claimed.
He made a presentation to disprove what he described as “persistent and irritating claims by some sectors that there are 7,000 extra-judicial killings.”
Director Augusto Marquez Jr., chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, said that since the PNP launched its anti-drug war last year, there have been 6,011 homicide cases, 1,398 of which were drug-related.
There are 3,785 ongoing investigations and the police are not discounting the possibility that these cases are also drug-related, he said.
The PNP chief said: “They are presenting this not only to the local but international community. I just want to disprove that allegation so that the public would not be misled by that reporting.”
At the same time, the PNP chief lashed out at some media entities for portraying all the killings as state-sponsored.
“Not all, but some sectors of the media want to show that all the killings are state-sponsored. I personally cannot take to order the killing of a certain person. I will never do that,” he said.
The PNP chief also slammed the European Union for its continuous criticism of the government’s war on drugs.
“What do you want, a state-sponsored drug addiction? Maybe this European [Union] wants all the Filipinos to become drug addicts. Maybe that’s what they want, a place for the addicts to legally use drugs,” he asked.
As for the declaration of the President that 40 percent of barangay (village) chairmen are involved in drugs, de la Rosa said the Directorate for Intelligence has Duterte’s list of protectors and is plotting a move in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Malacañang on Monday also belied the allegation by an official of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Duterte’s war on illegal drugs only targets the poor.
Abella slammed HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine for claiming that Duterte had “finally acknowledged” that his drug war is “a war on the poor” that exposes his “contempt for the lives of the country’s urban slum dwellers.”
“The war on drugs is not targeted at any particular segment of society. However, the most prevalent drug in the Philippines is shabu, dubbed as poor man’s cocaine,” Abella said.
“The supply, largely from outside the Philippines, is in great demand from users and distributors both coming from poor families. Poverty, however, does not justify the use and selling of shabu,” Abella said
“As the President said, he has to clean up the streets of drug users, pushers and dealers, regardless of their socioeconomic status in life,” he added.
The Palace official said HRW, as well as other organizations criticizing Duterte, should be “more circumspect” in speaking out on Philippine affairs.
“Their lack of appreciation of the context and local reality shows a deep insensitivity to other cultures,” Abella said.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE