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Interference will not sidetrack drug war

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The foreign interference from the International Criminal Court (ICC) will not sidetrack the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) drug war campaign but would strengthen authorities’ resolve to see the fight to a positive conclusion.

PBrig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., Chief of the PNP – National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said the ICC investigation into alleged human rights violations by the Duterte administration over its anti-narcotics drive would have no impact on the police’s anti-drug operations.

“Our [anti-drug] operations will not be affected by any investigation,” Danao said in an interview in the Daily Tribune’s morning show, Gising Na! “We are open 24/7 for any investigation. We are not hiding anything, and we are not afraid of (any investigation).

“Remember, we are trying to save lives here,” the police official said, dismissing accusations the anti-drug campaign had resulted in the death of innocent lives.

On the contrary, the proliferation of illegal drugs on the streets is responsible for the rise in criminal activities that kills innocent lives. According to police data, many criminal offenses, particularly robbery with homicide, are drug-related or drug-induced.

“How about the killing of innocent civilians by those criminal elements? What are we going to do about them? I will not allow the innocents to die and be killed by an evil person or criminals,” the police official said and asked critics of the administration’s war on drugs if they want to focus on the rights of the criminals but put aside the rights of the victims.

Php 420B industry
Since assuming power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed the war on drugs to be a central policy of his administration. The booming illegal drug trade in the Philippines was estimated to reach Php 420 billion in size annually in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. U.S. International Narcotics Control Strategy.

Indeed, international drug syndicates use the Philippines as a transit hub for the illegal drug trade, owing to its geographical location. The country became a temporary theatre of the U.S.-led War on Drugs in the 90s, with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration even conducted its own operations in the Philippines at one point.

The official record from the PNP showed,5,100 drug personalities have been killed as of January 2019, but human rights groups place the death toll at over 12,000.

Last week, a series of operations by combined elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Customs, and the PNP yielded Php 5.85 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) and the killing of six drug traffickers.

Four Chinese nationals identified as Gao Manzhu, Hong Jianshe, Eddie Tan, all from Fujian, China; and Xu Youha from Quezon City, were killed during the joint buy-bust operation in Zambales on 7 September, while Basher Bangon, 59, and Danilo Untavar, 51, were killed in Cavite two days later. Two other —couple Lani and Aldwin Micoleta—were arrested by the police.

No letup
Danao vowed a relentless campaign against all forms of criminalities and illegal drugs, pledging crime prevention is a continuing activity of the NCRPO.

“There will be no letup in our campaign against criminality, terrorism, and illegal drugs as they are all inter-connected. If we focus on crime prevention, then the threat of terrorism will go down as well,” he stated.

And to criminal elements which will fight it out (nanlaban) with authorities, Danao warned he would “kill them all” also to protect the lives of law enforcers.

“As long the life of any law enforcer is in danger, we will stop. If we have to kill them, we will. I will not allow our law enforcers to be killed by these lawless elements. But that will not stop us from doing our duties and responsibilities. As long as there are illegal drugs on the streets, the police will not stop to arrest them, and if they fight, we will defend ourselves,” he added.

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