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Drug war never ends

The war on drugs is a continuing one in all countries.

Francis Wakefield

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gives a message to the candidates for military observer in various United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Missions during their meeting at the Malacañan Palace on November 29, 2019. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Vice President Leni Robredo and other opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte made a “stupid” and premature conclusion that his signature war on drugs was a failure as the Chief Executive said the campaign, on the contrary, is “never-ending.”

The national government’s crackdown on illegal drugs can’t be considered a loss, the President said in an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines.

“How can you call it a failure? The failure is you,” Duterte said, apparently referring to Robredo who he fired last 24 November as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

“All stupid remarks are coming out from an empty head. The war on drugs is a continuing one in all countries, even in America. You know that. Do not pretend. If you are not stupid, do not pretend to be stupid,” Mr. Duterte indicated.

The President issued the statement amid Robredo’s criticism that the drug war is “obviously not working.”

Mr. Duterte in response named the Vice President as ICAD co-chair to give her an opportunity to help the government stop the drug proliferation and for her eyes to open to the reality of what’s happening in anti-narcotics operations.

Robredo was appointed as ICAD co-chairman on 31 October that she later accepted days after. Mr. Duterte dismissed her from the post due to her supposed failure to present anti-narcotics measures.

Good faith not repaid

The President said he had appointed Robredo in “good faith,” but the latter opted to use her position as anti-drug czar for “grandstanding.”

“It was all in good faith. I said just join the government if you think the government fails to deliver its promises. Join us. I’m giving you the position so that you will know,” he said.

“I cannot understand you. You are there grandstanding, but I let you do that. Then you keep on taunting me,” he added.

The Chief Executive said he had to fire Robredo because he could no longer stomach her “stupidity” for criticizing the government despite being appointed as anti-drug czar.

“You talk that way and think of me that way, while you are there at ICAD. You are stupid, so I fired you,” he said.

Mr. Duterte stated he was no longer keen to scout for an ICAD co-chair in lieu of Robredo.

The anti-drug body is headed by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino.

“I have had enough. I would no longer appoint an anti-drug czar. There is no need for a new drug czar,” he said.

Powerful body

ICAD, created through Executive Order 15 signed on 6 March 2017, is mandated to ensure the member-agencies’ implementation of and compliance with all policies, laws and issuances on the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, in an “integrated and synchronized manner.”

The ICAD members are the Dangerous Drugs Board, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Philippine Information Agency, Public Attorney’s Office, Office of the Solicitor General, Philippine Coast Guard, PNP, NBI, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Other members of the ICAD are the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, Justice, Health, Education, Social Welfare, Trade, Agriculture, and Defense, as well as the Customs and Immigration bureaus.

The President maintained that the drug war will remain relentless, as he acknowledged that there are still some narco-politicians who are in connivance with drug syndicates operating in the country.

“I did not know, when I arrived, when I got to look into the records sa (with regard to) drug cases, then I realized that I was fighting against my own government because the police, the Customs and everybody else was dipping their dirty fingers into it,” he said.

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