De Lima seeks probe into shortcomings, accountabilities in govt’s drug war


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate Resolution urging Congress to look into the gains, achievements, shortcomings, and accountabilities of the Duterte regime’s “War on Drugs”.

In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 770, De Lima said that “in spite of billions of pesos in intelligence fund, there has been no notable achievements in terms of effectively neutralizing any drug syndicate other than kill suspected low-level drug peddlers.”

“Before this administration’s term comes to an end, it behooves the Senate to evaluate the results or performance of one of the centerpiece programs of this government not only to determine the effectiveness of the program but also to hold accountable those who used this program as a cover for corruption and abuses,” she said.

During his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, Duterte said that “[w]e will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or are put either behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish.”

However, then Director of the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) P/Col. Romeo Caramat admitted on Feb. 7, 2020 that the “shock and awe (approach of the government) definitely did not work,” adding that the “[d]rug supply is still rampant”.

In fact, Peter Lim, who was accused by Duterte himself as one of the country’s biggest illegal drug dealers, has an outstanding warrant of arrest for conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading and a ₱500,000 bounty on his head. To date, the government has yet to determine his whereabouts and confirm whether he has already left the country.

De Lima recalled that when the House of Representatives conducted a probe on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in 2016, said investigation only led to the filing of three drug cases against her. De Lima has consistently and firmly asserted her innocence in these cases. She was acquitted in one of these three cases on February 17, 2021, exactly four years to the day after the charges were filed with the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa.

“In spite of the allegation of conspiracy, none of the alleged co-conspirators who are NBP inmates were charged, except for Jaybee Sebastian who died under suspicious circumstances supposedly due to COVID 19” she said. “Even with direct access to the drug lords inside NBP, the government has failed to obtain leads on the drug supply chain or financing that could be useful in arresting the distribution of illegal drugs in the country.”

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said that “even as the war on drugs offer little significant gains in stopping the distribution of illegal drugs in our country, the violence that attended it caught the eye of international human rights agencies.”

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report, Duterte’s “harmful rhetoric” and “incendiary” language combined with his government’s “heavy-handed focus” on fighting illegal drugs and threats from insurgents has led to numerous deaths, arbitrary detentions and a suppression of dissent.

“Noong 2016, pinaimbestigahan ko na ang walang habas na patayan at karahasan na dulot ng drug war ng gobyerno. Ang layunin natin: Matigil ang pang-aabuso at maglatag ng mekanismo para wastong tugunan ang salot ng ilegal na droga. Pero imbes na makiisa, ako ang pinuntirya, ginipit at ipinakulong.”

“Mahigit limang taon ang nakalipas, anong napala ng bansa sa War on Drugs ni Duterte? Libo-libong Pilipino ang pinaslang, kabilang na ang mga bata at inosente, habang naglipana pa rin ang ilegal na droga!”, said De Lima.

Vice President Leni Robredo, for her part, revealed in a report released last Jan. 6, 2020 that during her short stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD), law enforcement agencies were only able to seize 1% of the shabu supply in the Philippines. (30)

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