President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged law enforcement forces to stay vigilant as the war on drugs continues despite the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Duterte made this call as he led the destruction of PHP7.51 billion worth of illegal drugs in Trece Martires City, Cavite.
In his speech, Duterte lauded the coordinated efforts of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that led to the seizure of assorted drugs.
He said the drugs would add to the more than PHP56 billion worth of illegal drugs that were seized after more than 180,000 anti-illegal drug operations since the beginning of his administration in 2016.
Saying drug traffickers do not rest during pandemic, Duterte reminded the law enforcers not to keep their guard down.
“Let me emphasize to our law enforcement agents and operatives that, despite the extraordinary circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, these criminals do not cease in their nefarious activities,” he said.
He emphasized the need to remain steadfast in the campaign not only by intensifying operations against drug trafficking, but also by reforming the criminal justice system and addressing the root cause of drug abuse and dependency.
Duterte also promised to work harder to prevent the movement of illicit drugs smuggled into the country by land, air, or sea.
“We will continue to work even harder not only to suppress the supply of narcotics in our streets, but also to prevent our country from being used as a trans-shipment point for illegal drug trade in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
‘Do you duty in accordance with law’
Duterte urged the law enforcement forces, the prosecution service, and the judiciary to never waver in efforts to end the menace that has caused “immeasurable harm” to the lives of users and their families.
“We already accomplished a lot in the past four years, and we can accomplish more in the next years to come. Ending illegal drug trade means securing the future of our nation. Together, let us make a drug-free Philippines the greatest legacy that we can leave behind to our children and the succeeding generations,” he said.
He also reminded them to do their duty in accordance with the law, stressing that he would take responsibility for all drug-related killings and protect them from prosecution.
“I’m telling the law enforcement, the uniformed personnel: Do your duty. Do it in accordance with law pero be alert and be wise. Alam mo kaunting pagkamali lang, barilin mo na (If they start acting fishy, shoot them). Because if you are not — maunahan ka o maalanganin ka, na-leche na (if they draw a gun ahead of you, you’ll be in trouble),” he said. “Trabaho lang. At kung magtrabaho kayo nang husto, ako’y magpapasalamat sa inyo (Just do your job. And if you’ll work hard, I will be grateful to you).
Duterte brushed aside human rights groups’ criticism on his administration’s drug war, insisting that he was not encouraging law enforcement to “intentionally” kill but only do it for self-defense.
He said the groups were “preoccupied” with the health and life of the criminals, while ignoring that many of police and military officers were killed in the drug war.
“Me, as mayor and now as President, I have to protect every man, woman, and child from the evils of drugs,” he said.
The destruction of assorted illegal drugs was the third time since PDEA chief Wilkins Villanueva took over the helm.
“More importantly, the destruction was in response to the President’s directive to immediately destroy all shabu evidence, residual or otherwise, to avoid recycling,” Villanueva said in a statement. PNA.GOV.PH