The government’s war on drugs will now focus on military and police personnel linked to the illegal narcotics trade, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday night.
“Drugs destroy the nation, period. And the drug war will include the military and the police,” the President said in a speech during the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Navy.
The President admitted that the government was partly to blame for failing to do complete background checks when recruiting military and police personnel.
“There’s a number of them who are really corrupt and are really criminals, but who maneuvered somehow to get into the service,” Duterte said, vowing to get rid of those linked to drugs.
The President has drawn intense criticism over his bloody drug war, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 suspected drug pushers and users.
Metro Manila police chief Camilo Cascolan, meanwhile, urged residents to stay vigilant and continue to help the government and police in the campaign against crime, particularly in the fight against drug trafficking.
Cascolan made the appeal after police in Pasay City killed a suspected drug pusher.
Police said the suspect, Aries Lumanlan, 22, tried to shoot it out with them when he was about to be arrested in his house on 35 Saint Cecille Street, Maricaban, Pasay City.
Cascolan said Lumanlan was a member of the Batang City Jail gang and was reputed to be a notorius drug pusher in the neighborhood.
The Metro Manila police chief praised the concerned citizen who had tipped off the police on Lumanlan’s whereabouts, saying this kind of coordination between the public and law enforcement would help the government win the war on drugs.
On Tuesday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency opened the country’s first community-based reformation center designed to rehabilitate drug users in Sarangani, Mindanao.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino spearheaded the inauguration of Balay Silangan Reformation Center or “house of hope,” a temporary shelter intended to reform drug offenders and to turn them into self-sufficient and law-abiding citizens, in Barangay Nagpan, Malungon town.
“The Balay Silangan Reformation Center welcomes with open arms drug offenders who aspire a renewed life and have chosen to be on the side of the government rather than help peddle illegal drugs in the streets,” he said.
According to PDEA, Malungon has recorded a total of 1,303 drug users who have surrendered to the authorities. Out of these, 100 would undergo the reformatory process at the center.
“Balay Silangan is PDEA’s pilot harm-reduction program. This will greatly help PDEA’s effort to clear 26,000 barangays in the country from illegal drugs by 2022, he said.
“PDEA values life and we want the former drug offenders to have the opportunity to rehabilitate, to regain their dignity and place in our society,” he added.
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