MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) today welcomed the decision of the administration to designate the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the lead agency that would carry out the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“We are hopeful that professionalism will govern PDEA in implementing the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and that the campaign against drugs will be carried out with strict adherence to the rule of law,” said CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia.
“This development is an indication that the administration is willing to listen to public clamor for the observance of due process in its campaign against illegal drugs,” added de Guia.
De Guia explained that, while the CHR is hopeful of an improvement in the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, the Commission is cognizant of the personnel and other resource limitations of PDEA to undertake the task nationwide.
“The CHR expects the various government agencies, such as the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation, and other members of the police sector to recognize the lead role of, and coordinate with, PDEA in this campaign,” de Guia said.
The Commission welcomes the proposal from the Senate to realign PNP’s budget for the anti-illegal drug campaign to PDEA.
The Commission believes that police presence must still be maintained as a deterrent to illegal drug activities in communities. The assignment of the lead role to PDEA, however, “will allow the PNP to devote more effort to solving and preventing ordinary crimes, including vigilante killings and possible EJKs resulting from police operations,” de Guia said.
The CHR is hopeful that PDEA will respect due process of law in conducting intelligence-gathering operations, inspections and arrests of suspects.
“We also look forward to a more collaborative relationship with PDEA towards shaping a strategy that is more respectful of life and human dignity,” de Guia said.
The CHR, she added, was calling for policy shift in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign “to a holistic strategy that is compliant with international human rights standards, and prioritizes health, including access to medicines, rehabilitation, and poverty alleviation issues.”
Towards this end, the Commission enjoins the government to engage civil society organizations, including the religious and academic sectors, in developing a human rights-based approach to addressing the problem of illegal drugs. (CHR-PR)