We are pleased with Pulse Asia’s September 2017 survey showing that more than 8 out of 10 Filipinos support the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. This goes to show that our people appreciate the Administration’s efforts to reduce the incidence of crime and make the streets safer and the communities more peaceful.
On the 73% of the respondents saying that extrajudicial killings (EJKs) are happening in the implementation of the campaign against illegal drugs, we understand why many survey respondents may think so, given the massive media coverage of the Caloocan youth killings during the survey period. These suspicions, however, must always be validated by investigation and evidence, and that is the job of the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS), as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), if ordered to investigate such incidents.
On the 76% of respondents expressing concern that what happened to Kian de los Santos may happen to them or to someone they know, this sentiment is understandable. We also share the concern of many Filipinos over unlawful killings possibly perpetrated in the anti-drug campaign. As we have previously said, even one death is one too many. The President has made it absolutely clear that killing unarmed suspects who do not resist arrest is never allowed and will be punished.
On the 58% of the respondents saying that the leaders of the Catholic Church must help with the rehabilitation of drug addicts, the Administration has always been open to this idea. It is unfortunate that the Church has been a staunch critic of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. We appeal to the Catholic Church hierarchy to encourage some of its leaders to be more cautious in their pronouncements that drive a wedge among the flock. These same leaders are at the core of the division within the Church that is proving to be an impediment to the complementary work of the church and government. Having said this, we urge them to pro-actively help government in the second phase of our anti-illegal drug campaign, which is focused on the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents, which include the restoration of mental, spiritual, and psycho-emotional health.
With the return of anti-narcotics operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), we expect the focus to shift to arrests of drug lords and narco-politicians, the interdiction of smuggled or locally made drugs, and the prevention and rehabilitation of addiction, in collaboration with LGUs, Church, civil society, and community groups. This new campaign against drugs will hopefully continue to win near-universal support, while addressing the public’s concern over unlawful suspect deaths.