Drug problem reduced by 1/4 – Duterte

Published April 15, 2018, 4:10 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

On a 10-point danger scale, the country’s drug problem has been reduced to a 6 from an 8.5 level or about one-fourth, but would still “transcend” the administration, President Duterte admitted recently.

The President said the anti-drug campaign would be a “long fight” even as he vowed to sustain law enforcement efforts to bring down the danger level to zero.

“I will address the public by just saying that I told the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines that ang droga [drugs] in a scale of one to 10, the danger level is something like until now almost six. It used to be about eight and one half. Ngayon, pababa six but hindi pa kontrolado ng gobyerno ang trade sa droga (It has lessened to six but the government has not yet placed the drug trade under control),” Duterte said during a recent press conference in Davao City.

“My job is to see to it that there is no scale to use the danger of drugs kung maari lang zero (if possible attain zero). Kung maabot ko ‘yung ambisyon na zero (If I will achieve my zero goal) and it could cost you your life or your liberty for that matter because the police and military will be active against you. It’s the plain law enforcement,” he added.

Duterte, however, admitted that the narcotics trade might outlive his presidency as he cautioned his successor to prepare to deal with the problem.

“It’s gonna be a long fight. It will transcend my presidency. And the next president has to deal with it eyeball-to-eyeball whether he likes it or not. The motivation there is profit,” said Duterte, who launched a controversial crackdown on the illegal drug trade.

“I think there’s a few guys out there operating the laboratories,” he added.

Duterte also warned of possible alliance between some criminal syndicates in Asia and the drug cartels in South America that might complicate the drug problem.

“The one danger is the cartel of the South America who would connect with the criminal syndicates in Asia. Iyan mahirapan (That will be a difficulty),” he said.

He noted that the problem of drug trafficking was one of the issues tackled in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hainan, China last week.

He said Xi emphasized the need for a “focused attention to drugs because we have also the same problem.” “And mind you, they execute people,” said Duterte who earlier sought closer security cooperation with China in fighting transnational crimes such as terrorism and illegal drugs.

“Indonesia has the same problem. Malaysia not so much but mas — hindi lang napa-publish but I know that Widodo, President also has the same problem with drugs,” he added.

As the shabu trade continues, Duterte warned that cocaine was also coming into the country at a “very fast” rate but was “not as pervasive” as shabu since the expensive illegal substance was harder to sell.

Duterte added that cocaine, which he previously described as the rich man’s drug, was an organic substance that was not really as “vicious” and “dangerous” as shabu.

“Most of the Americans are — the addicts I mean are on cocaine and heroin. Hindi pa dumating sa atin ‘yan dito (It has not yet reached us) unless we allow criminal syndicates to operate here again,” he added.

The President issued the warning about the lingering drug problem amid the debates on whether or not to postpone the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

He reiterated that some government officials, including mayors and barangay captains, have suspected links to the narcotics trade.

Asked if he would release the list of barangay officials allegedly involved in the drug trade, Duterte said he would think it over amid concerns about its impact of the right of voters’ to choose their leaders.

“I’ll give it a thought. I’ll sleep on it maybe sometime kasi I have to make sure that it does not affect the freedom of the people to elect their own leaders because this is democracy so I have to think about this crucial issue,” he said.

“The choice of the people but then again letting them know that you might just elect the wrong guy. And then we go back into this rigmarole again of denials and everything, and even mayors getting killed along the way,” he said.

Duterte insisted that he has “zero tolerance” towards illegal drugs, saying there was “no middle ground” on the issue.

“Basta dito, no quarters given, no quarters asked. Zero tolerance ako sa drugs (I have zero tolerance on drugs] Magkasala ka na ng iba, magnakaw ka na lang ng eroplano diyan o, okay lang sa akin [You may commit other crimes, even steal an airplane, that’s okay with me),” he said.