Senator Risa Hontiveros said that the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to let the Philippine Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lead the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign is not new, given that the agency has the primary mandate to push for efficient law enforcement in the fight against illegal drugs.
“However, unless the government’s current anti-drug strategy is radically overhauled and the country’s security forces are thoroughly cleansed of scalawags, whether it is the PDEA or PNP, the anti-drug campaign will continue to be bloody, abusive and prone to corruption,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Hindi lang implementers ang may problema. Mas lalo na ang polisiya. Tokhang under the PDEA would still be Tokhang [The problem is not with the implementers alone, but more on the police. Tokhang under the PDEA would still be Tokhang],” Hontiveros added.
Duterte signed a memorandum yesterday directing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), other agencies and all ad hoc anti-drug force to hands off to all campaigns and operations against illegal drugs and leave the task to PDEA.
The Senator urged that “changing of the guard” will not help the government, unless the president decides to stop the Oplan Tokhang.
Hontiveros suggested the implementation of an alternative drug law enforcement strategy that will address the rampant drug problem in the country.
“The authorities must bring the campaign to the big-time drug lords instead of simply targeting the poor. Our authorities must focus on crimes associated with big drug operations, such as money laundering and extortion. The government must also strengthen border control at international airports and seaports and heighten operations against cross-country narco trafficking,” Hontiveros said.
She also called on the government to strengthen the public health approach to the drug problem, adding that it is more than a peace and order concern but a fundamental health issue.
“The government must provide a comprehensive public health approach to the country’s drug policy and establish appropriate barangay-based programs and services for drug-related issues and concerns,” she said.
Hontiveros also called for the reallocation of the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang budget of P900 million to other programs of the government such as the provident fund of the rank-and-file police personnel and their capability enhancement program.
Despite Duterte’s order, Hontiveros assured that the investigation on the extrajudicial-killing cases will not be taken for granted.
“We will not allow this government to sweep under the rug the atrocities of its bloody drug war,” she stressed.