LT. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, handpicked by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte as the next Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, is proposing the creation of a presidential task force that will specifically go after illegal drug operations.
The task force, Visaya said on Thursday, would be composed of soldiers and policemen and government agencies, including the Department of Justice and Department of Foreign Affairs.
He added that he and other officials concerned are still in the planning stage of the battle against illegal drugs.
Part of the planning, Visaya said, is to come up with the number of soldiers who will be involved when the incoming Duterte administration mounts a nationwide crackdown against suppliers of illegal drugs, hunts down and arrests drug lords and dismantles illicit drug laboratories.
Duterte, Davao City mayor, has vowed to stamp out crime in just six months of his presidency.
He had campaigned on a platform that makes a priority action against corruption, lawlessness and illegal drugs.
Former Justice undersecretary Jose Calida, an ally of Duterte, said the Davao City mayor plans to launch a two-pronged strategy against illegal drugs nationwide that will reduce demand for and supply of illegal drugs in the country.
“Illegal drug’s permeation is already horrible, it’s almost 100 percent,” he noted, saying that through this tack, criminality will also be reduced.
Illegal drugs and poverty, according to Calida, are the root causes of crime.
Besides all-out war against drugs, the Duterte administration, he said, will press an education campaign aimed at informing people, particularly the youth, about the dangers of illegal drugs.
“Knowledge of such dangers will help reduce demand for illegal drugs,” Calida added.
Meanwhile, Visaya said that as soon as he assumes the top military post, he will abide by Duterte mandating the AFP to actively support the government’s anti-drug campaign and the operations against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Part of strategies against theASG and other jihadists, according to him. is realignment of forces and equipment and deployment of more troops and military assets to southern Philippines.