Actually it is not only President Rodrigo Duterte who loathes the seemingly endless proliferation of drugs in the country.
The over 6 million people that made a big difference in his winning the presidency and the many more that supported also abhors the extent that illegal drug is being distributed and/or used in this country.
What is even more alarming and disturbing are the involvement of some generals, police other government officials in the illegal drug trades as he has pointed out.
Some eyebrows may have been raised when Duterte asked for another year to combat the drug menace in the country, this, after failing to keep up with his promise to eliminate it in six months after getting elected, and again being unable to contain it after an extension of another six months.
But is this a measure of an unsuccessful campaign on Duterte’s war against drugs?
For many who have seen the repercussions of drug use and the intelligence reports Duterte has been getting about the illegal drug trade in the country, I think the consensus is that the president is right is his assessment of the magnitude of the drug problem in this country and is the reason why he signed a memorandum allowing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to participate anew in the government’s drug war.
So it cannot be said, therefore, that Duterte has failed in his war on drugs, but the fact is that a continuity of the relentless campaign is needed involving a greater number of anti-illegal drugs personnel to prevent the resurgence of the menace.
Duterte was right in listening to the clamor of the public that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) shall take over from the PNP the anti-illegal drugs operation because of the extrajudicial killings brouhaha, but the agency’s inferior number simply rendered them inadequate to be at the critical place in the most opportune time.
What was happening though is that while there may not have been any killing, the proportion of crime committed and illegal drug trade increased.
Thus, Duterte has ordered the PNP to return to the government’s war on illegal drugs but in a supporting role, with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) keeping the lead overall in the campaign.
Not only that. Other law enforcement agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Postal Corporation were also directed to provide support to the PDEA in the conduct of the anti-narcotics campaign.
In a statement, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said:“The President recognizes the significant strides PDEA has made in the government’s anti-illegal campaign but it has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels.”
Indeed, this is a welcome development that will surely make an impact in Duterte’s one year appeal to stamp out the drug menace in the country.