Senator Leila M. de Lima today asserted that President Duterte’s plan to return the leadership of drug war to the Philippine National Police (PNP) will not solve the worsening drug menace in the country.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said instead of focusing who will lead the government’s war on drugs, the President can do better by issuing a clear directive to stop the killings first.
“The President will never solve the problem on the proliferation of illegal drugs as long as his administration’s approach of killing suspected drug suspects remains the same. He can tap the PNP officials to lead his campaign again, or even ask them to combine forces with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the drug issue will remain unsolved,” she said.
“Let me reiterate that we cannot wage the war against drugs with blood, as it is not only discriminating, but also hypocritical. By promoting and tolerating the killings of suspected offenders without a day in court, the administration is only trying to ‘solve’ a crime by committing another crime,” she added.
De Lima issued the statement after Duterte announced he will eventually return the jurisdiction over his controversial all-out war on drugs to the PNP because PDEA lacks manpower to sustain his campaign.
Duterte has earlier transferred the lead role in the crackdown on illegal drugs to PDEA following public outrage over the controversial death of 17-year-old student Kian Loyd de los Santos and 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz at the hands of Caloocan policemen in August.
In a memorandum signed October 10, Duterte told law enforcement agencies to let PDEA “as sole agency” to conduct anti-illegal drugs campaign and operations.
De Lima said “there has to be another way” in solving the drug problem in the country, which would not promote violence and not further tarnish the reputation of PNP as an institution.
“We do not want another Kian de los Santos or Carl Arnaiz headlining the news. We do not want another story of police officers abusing their power. We do not want more killings and human rights abuses in our country. We want the killings to end now,” she said.
The President, who has unfailingly backed police-led killings, vowed to continue his deadly war on drugs that already killed an estimate of 13,000 people, up to the last day of his term in 2022.
Touted as a “Prisoner of Conscience,” De Lima is among the few senators who dared to oppose and criticize the President’s all-out war on drugs, eventually leading to her detention.