SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano has called on President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to relaunch the war on illegal drugs, warning that drug traders have gone back to the streets since the suspension of the campaign in January.
Speaking before the crowd that attended the pro-Duterte vigil-rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila last Saturday night, Cayetano said he had received complaints of drug pushers resuming their business.
Cayatano, a staunch supporter of Duterte, said the resurfacing of drug pushers poses a serious threat because illegal drugs come with murder, rape and other crimes.
“Kaya ngayong gabi ako’y nakikisauap sa ating pangulo at PNP i-re-launch ninyo ang ating anti-drug drive (So tonight I’m appealing to our President and the PNP to re-launch our anti-drug drive),” Cayetano said before the cheering Duterte supporters.
Saturday’s pro-Duterte rally drew an estimated 215,000 at its peak at 9 p.m., the PNP said. The rally ended before noon on Sunday, still with a large crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 according to the police.
In contrast, the rally at the EDSA People Power Monument commemorating the 31st anniversary of the 1986 popular revolt that toppled the Marcos regime, drew an estimated 1,200 at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the government-run Philippine News Agency reported.
Cayetano said the drug campaign would no longer be called Duterte’s war on drugs, but “the people’s war on drugs.”
“Because we are part of the campaign against drugs and not only drugs but also corruption,” the senator said.
Duterte last month ordered the suspension of the anti-drug campaign nationwide following the kidnap-slay case of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who was killed last October inside the PNP national headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Members of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other individuals were among those charged.
The President ordered the PNP and the NBI to stop all anti-drug operations and directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to take the lead while national police undergoes internal cleansing.
Cayetano also defended the President against those who have been criticizing his administration over the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug pushers and criminals, insisting that such killings were more rampant in the previous administration.
The senator claimed that during the time of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, summary killings ranged from 10,000 to 14,000 yearly or an average of 1,000 per month.
To hide the alarming situation, Aquino issued an executive order prepared by then Justice secretary Leila de Lima, stating that killings that do not involve labor leaders, priests, nuns and activists won’t be considered extrajudicial.
“And when the Duterte administration came in, all killings were considered [extrajudicial killings]and Duterte is the one to blame,” Cayetano added.
PDEA vows ‘relentless’ campaign
PDEA on Sunday said its campaign against illegal drugs would be “relentless” and “sustained.”
Derrick Arnold Carreon, PDEA public information office director, however, told The Manila Times the campaign won’t be bloody.
Carreon said PDEA’s campaign would also lead to killing suspected drug personalities if they attempt to put up a fight against the agency’s operatives.
He said PDEA is “guided by the president’s marching order…‘that the drug problem must be stopped by all means that the law allows. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained.’ Thus, we follow the legal bounds governing the ‘use of force continuum and lawful self-defense.’”
WITH NELSON BADILLA