PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed to continue the war against illegal drugs no matter what, and warned those involved in the trade that their choice would be limited to either “jail or hell” if they did not stop.
In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte said the government’s fight against illegal drugs would be unrelenting despite international and local pressure against it.
He also called for the re-imposition of the death penalty, particularly on drug-related heinous crimes.
“The fight [against drugs]will be unremitting as it will be unrelenting despite international and local pressures,” Duterte said.
Foreign and local human rights advocates have criticized the campaign against illegal drugs because of the supposed human rights violations committed in the course of police operations.
Based on data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), 63,926 anti-drug operations have been conducted by police, while 86,933 suspects have been arrested and another 3,200 killed.
Since the government began its drug war on July 1, 2016, 1,308,078 individuals have surrendered as of June 20, 2017.
Duterte’s drug war however was marred by the killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in October last year right inside the PNP headquarters in Quezon City, by rogue anti-drug operatives who used a fake warrant.
The President said economic progress would not happen if criminals were allowed to freely roam the streets and harm helpless citizens.
“The fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell,” Duterte warned.
“I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue, because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investment from pouring in,” he added.
Duterte also appealed to critics of his administration to join the war against drugs and use their influence and moral ascendancy to educate the people on the evils of narcotics.
“I ask you to join me in this fight against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality. The government equipped with legal authority and you (critics) the moral ascendancy over the sector you represent can do so much and hopefully eradicate this scourge that plagues us to no end,” he said.
The President made it clear he had no intention of being tentative on making decisions, and allow the youth to be destroyed because of inaction.
“You harm the children on whose hands the future of this Republic is entrusted and I will hound you to the very gates of hell,” Duterte warned.
VACC backs Duterte
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruptions (VACC) vowed to help President Duterte’s drive against corruption and illegal drugs as they expressed satisfaction on emphasis of the Chief executive on the re-imposition of the death penalty.
“The VACC lauds President Duterte’s SONA which include the re-imposition of death penalty and focus on the community’s fight against corruption,” said Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the VACC.
Sen. Richard Gordon however said he was not in favor of the death penalty. Gordon, is the chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights in charge of studying the death penalty bills.
“I’m sure it doesn’t work to eradicate crime. But I think what we need to do is really come up with a reform on prison, on the penology system, together with the criminal courts,” he added.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, for his part expressed his appreciation for Duterte’s push for the death penalty.
“I’m really in favor of death penalty only to be a deterrent and to make sure that the Philippines doesn’t become the hub for international drug trade in Asia,” Ejercito added.