War on drugs to continue – Duterte

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday reiterated that the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs will continue Despite mounting criticism.

"That is why, I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering [applause] that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investments from pouring in. The fight will be unremitting as it will be unrelenting," Duterte noted.

"Despite international and local pressures, the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell. And I will make sure, very sure that they will not have the luxury of enjoying the benefits of their greed and madness," the President said.

Duterte also told the critics against this fight: "Your efforts will be better spent if you use the influence, moral authority and ascendancy of your organizations over your respective sectors to educate the people on the evils of illegal drugs instead of condemning the authorities and unjustly blaming for every killing that bloodies this country."

Dutere said that he does not intend to loosen the leash in the campaign or lose the fight against illegal drugs.

"Neither do I intend to preside over the destruction of the Filipino youth by being timid and tentative in my decisions and actions," he said.

Duterte reiterated that he also values human life despite the deaths that have been linked to illegal drugs.

"But don't get me wrong. I value human life the way I value mine. Each life that is snuffed out translates into future generations lost. It is like cracking the acorn from which an oak tree grows -- which, in turn, produce the seeds to complete the cycle of [life in] perpetuity," the Chief Executive explained.

"There is a jungle out there. There are beasts and vultures preying on the helpless, the innocent [and] the unsuspecting. I will not allow the ruin of the youth, the disintegration of families and the retrogression of communities, forced by criminals whose greed for money is as insatiable as it is devoid of moral purpose. Neither will I be immobilized into inaction by the fear that I will commit an act that will expose me to public condemnation or legal prosecution. You harm the children in whose hands the future of this Republic is entrusted, and I will hound you to the very gates of hell," Duterte added.

The Chief Executive urged Filipinos to join the fight to curb illegal drugs and criminality.

"That is why I ask you to join me in this fight against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality. The government, equipped with legal authority, and you, with the moral ascendancy over the sector you represent, can do so much, and hopefully, eradicate this social scourge that plagues us no end.

Last June 30, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) bared that 3,677 out of 42,036 barangays in the country have been declared free from illegal drugs after a year under the Duterte administration's continuing anti-illegal drugs campaign.

"These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program," said PDEA Director General Isidro S. LapeAa in a statement.

The Oversight Committee, which is chaired by PDEA, is composed of provincial representatives of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH) and local government units.

"Before declaring that a barangay is free from illegal drug activities, the committee must convene and validate the non-availability of drug supply in the area and the absence of drug transit activity, clandestine drug laboratory and chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den, drug pusher, and user," LapeAa added.

The declaration is pursuant to the parameters set forth by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) as provided in Section 8, DDB Board Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, otherwise known as Strengthening the Implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.

LapeAa said that 20,104 or 47.83 percent of the total barangays in the country are drug-affected.

"Out of these barangays, 68.5 percent or 13,782 are classified as slightly affected, 30.4 percent or 6,114 barangays are moderately affected, while the remaining 1 percent or 208 barangays are seriously affected," he added.

He noted that the creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, or ICAD, has unified, integrated, and synchronized all anti-drug efforts and strategies to holistically address the drug problem.

"The Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs composed of 39 member-agencies aims to clear 5,272 barangays before the year ends. If we can sustain the pace, ridding the country's drug problem in the next four years is very much doable," the PDEA chief said.

The National Capital Region (NCR) has the highest rate of barangay drug-affectation with 97.3 percent, followed by Region 13 at 86.58 percent and Region 7 at 82.75 percent. The region least affected by the drug menace is the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) at 3.49 percent.

A barangay is said to be drug-affected when there is a reported presence of drug user, pusher, manufacturer, marijuana cultivator or other drug personalities and facilities regardless of the number in the area.

Aside from PDEA, agencies involved in the anti-illegal drugs operations are the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), among others.

Source: Philippines News Agency