Duterte should fight drug lords, terrorists and insurgents


“THE Punisher,” if punisher he is, should exclude no lawless group from his avowed campaign to stamp out crime and criminality throughout the archipelago. Otherwise, incoming President Duterte will only be replicating the policy of selective justice of President Aquino.

The tunnel focus on the drug menace, to the exclusion of terrorism and insurgency, will not produce a more peaceful, orderly and law-abiding society if the new administration does not address the entire spectrum of lawlessness in the country.

This is the message borne home to us by the horrifying murder of another Canadian hostage by the Abu Sayyaf rebel group (ASG), and by the recurring incidents of raids and killings perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Peace and order, we must realize, is indivisible. We can’t have sections of the country, like gated communities, where lawlessness is walled off for residents, while the rest of the populace are prey to the dangers of intimidation, extortion and bodily harm by lawless groups.

Is crime our biggest problem?
I thought at first that Mr. Duterte was overstating the problem of criminality in the country in order to highlight his toughness and alarm over the drug menace—so much so that it seemed that to him lawlessness is the biggest problem facing the nation, bigger than mass poverty, corruption, and inequality

But on second thought, I realized that Duterte’s uncompromising stance against crime and lawlessness represents an exceptional opportunity for the nation to stop crime that all citizens should support. The key is for him to widen his vision to place drug lords, terrorists, and insurgents in the crosshairs of his anti-crime program.

When Filipinos responded enthusiastically to DU30’s campaign rhetoric, they envisioned the entire spectrum of lawlessness being driven from pillar to post by law enforcement agencies.

Many thought that our new President could bring to a definitive end, by negotiation or by force of arms, Muslim separatism in Mindanao and communist insurgency in other parts of the country.

Test of effectiveness
The test of an anti-crime campaign is effectiveness. Rhetoric and programs mean nothing if law enforcers cannot do the job

We cannot doubt anymore that Islamic terrorism is a threat to peace and security in Mindanao, Basilan and Sulu. The perpetrators of violent incidents are Abu Sayyaf rebels, and they have declared their allegiance to the Islamic State, in the Middle East.

The communist insurgency is now four decades old, counting from the time the new Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) were formed with Chinese assistance. Many of their leaders have been captured or eliminated. Most have given up on the dream of overthrowing the government, as communism has retreated almost everywhere. Now, there is talk of new peace negotiations, a formal settlement, and even a coalition government with Mr. Duterte.

We know a lot about the drug menace because of the spotlight that the President-elect has cast on it. We know that the Philippines is now a transshipment point for the international drug trade. We also know that as many as 30 local governments and their top officials are involved in drugs. The trade is so lucrative that when Duterte boasted of a big bounty fund for the heads of drug lords, they raised in turn a handsome bounty for the assassination of Duterte and his designate as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Chief Superintendent Roland de la Rosa.

Can our law enforcers cope?
The hard question we face is whether our national police, aided by the armed forces, is professionally ready to face down the triple challenge of drugs, terrorism and insurgency.

When Western Europe was inundated this year by Islamic terrorist attacks, experts suggested that European governments, Belgium especially, are fighting terrorists blindly; they do not have the capacity to subdue the menace.

Most of Europe’s security agencies do not cut it in the modern world of terrorism. In Western European countries, such agencies were set up to counter the KGB.

Against criminals and subversives, these agencies cannot cope. What is needed is an organization based on community policing that is devoted to recruiting informers and running agents within subversive groups.

For this reason, some have recommended that European governments should adopt something similar to Britain’s Special Branch and Special Air Service (SAS), which have been effective in fighting the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and terrorism, and have served as models by many countries.

Without Special Branch, UK security forces are blind. In the spectrum of crime, subversion is similar to ordinary criminality, but often rooted in families, clans, and political, ethnic or religious groups—as the UK discovered in Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus and Ireland.

A second security unit that we can adopt from the British is the Special Air Service ( SAS), a specialist regiment of the British army that is trained in commando techniques of warfare and used in clandestine operations (especially against terrorist groups).

The PNP’s Special Action Force (SAF) was formed along the lines of the SAS.

Martial law in Mindanao?
In a media interview, incoming PNP Chief de la Rosa said this week that he supports proposals to declare Martial Law in certain parts of Mindanao, to stop the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

De la Rosa disclosed no plan to stop the bandit group. Instead, he just threw his support behind the efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He vowed to discuss strategies with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, the incoming AFP chief of staff, once their appointments become official.

Martial law? Plainly, the idea has not been subjected to serious strategic study.

This shows us the state of readiness of our police and security forces.



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  1. Is there a connection between mass poverty and illegal drugs ? Illegal drugs are sold by drug pushers which are mostly poor Pilipinos. The so called drug lords are mostly rich , multi millionaires protected by politicians and police officers. That is the connection. If Duterte eradicates the Drug Lords, where will the drug pushers get their supply of drugs? You removed the drug lords, you remove 75 percent of the drug trade. Like the NPA, if Palparan removed the symphatizers, you remove most of the NPA in the area . The logic, nobody will supply them with food ,medicine, and intelligence report of the military.

  2. DU30 already made it clear to the public, even in his election campaign & even more details how to fight with the drug lords after he won as the president.

    I think this writer is just echoing.

    To stop Abusayaf it will be endless / effortless if:
    1) There are connivance from currupt military.
    2) There are infiltrators inside the Military.

    How many times this Abusayaf has been cordon? But still can not accomplished.
    How many times Abusayaf disappear before the military can reach specified place.

    Or may be who knows some of the elite receiving the portion of pie?

  3. Hindi basta basta wala etong gropong abusayaf.mawala lang eto kung may hightech na gamit ating militar lalo na sa gabi .kung bumili lang ang goberno sa nakalipas na administrasyun ay. Kaunti nalng ang asg cgoro.Hindi lang sa ngayun na ginawa nila eto panahon pa eto sa ramos administrasyun sa pagkaalam ko..kung sa Npa naman ay may cause kasi eto kaya mayron parin pumapasok sa pagkarebelde na maydahilan,mwala lang etong insurgency kung ipareho eto sa sri lanka sa mga tamil tiger na rebelde na inubus lahat sa militar ng srilanka pati civilian na kasabwat sa rebelde,pero pagkatapos kinasuhan toloy ang presidente ng sri lanka sa U.N.

  4. . A lumberjack trims a tree , removes the small branches and saplings, next the main branches, then the topmost part of the cleared tree truck, and finally chops down the main trunk. DU30 most likely will first trim down the criminals, drug lords corrupt government officials before chopping down the rebels, islamist terrorist, ideologues and separatist……

  5. chromaticfrog on

    There’s a distinct overlap between organized crime and terrorist groups. In fact, there was a study done by the Federal Research Division of the US Library of Congress that details how terrorist cells earn money from selling illegal drugs.


    Cripple the illegal narcotics trade, and you’ll also cripple one of the main financial sources of the Abu Sayyaf. Two birds with one stone.

  6. arthur keefe on

    Insurgency and terrorism are the biggest threats to peace and order, but I put corruption when it involves stealing millions from the public and undermines trust in government, ahead of drugs. What about a license to shoot corrupt politicians and officials on sight? I do not support this any more than I do other vigilante actions, but at least it does not discriminate against the poor and uneducated.

  7. We need to let Du30 do his job. Stamping out crime, especially the drug-related variety, is the major focus of his administration right now. I’m sure he has plans to address local terrorism and to bring to justice those responsible for creating nightmare to a lot of our countrymen in the peripheries.