By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has pledged to continue the war on illegal drugs until end of his term even though attaining a drug-free country might be “impossible.”
The President said he faces a “formidable group” of enemies in the drug war but vowed to enforce the law against “everybody who violates the law.”
“I will fight the drug problem to the last day of my term. It will not stop,” the President said during the birthday celebration of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in Davao del NorteFriday night.
“But really, to make it drug-free is something which is really impossible,” he said.
In pursuing the anti-drug campaign, Duterte also said he would not spare poor drug offenders from the crackdown since it will be considered “selective justice.”
“I cannot say that this law is only for the rich but not for the poor,” he said.
He pointed out that all persons involved in the drug trade share the same criminal responsibility.
“The law says that the one who cooks, the one who distributes, and the one who peddles the drugs are equally guilty. The act of one is the act of all because it is a conspiracy. That is the law,” he said.
“And my oath of office says that I have to enforce the law against everybody who violates the law,” he added.
The President admitted though the drug war faces tough challenges, such as involvement of certain government officials, cops and customs agents in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte said he was wrong to assume he could stop the drug problem within the first few months in office.
Soon after he gained access to “all information about drugs and its dimension” in the country when he became the country’s leader, Duterte realized the enormity of the problem.
“So doon ko nalaman na kalaban ko na pati pulis, kalaban ko na ‘yung Customs, kalaban ko na lahat [I found out that my enemies included the policemen, customs. They were all my enemies] and I was up against a formidable group,” he added.
Duterte also warned anew local government executives against getting involved in the narcotics trade. “Using the platform of the mayorship for drug distribution, you’re signing your death warrant there,” he said.
Another problem encountered by the government is the use of minors by drug syndicates.
Duterte claimed that young offenders were getting away with crimes due to a loophole to the justice juvenile law authored by Senator Francis Pangilinan.
“You cannot arrest, even detain for a moment, a minor,” he said. “And you are not even allowed even to lecture on him or to him, even a minute of what accountability means to society,” he added.
The President earlier tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead the government’s anti-drug campaign following public uproar over the alleged summary killings and other rights abuses.
Duterte later decided to bring back the police to help in the anti-drug war after he was dissatisfied with the output of PDEA.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa recently vowed that the Oplan Tokhang will be “bloodless” when it is revived this month.