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Duterte: I’ll quit if drug war derails

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he would consider resigning if he fails to control the spread of illegal drugs despite a bloody campaign to do just that.

“If I cannot control drugs, then maybe it is time for me to think about resignation,” Duterte told members of the First Scout Ranger Regiment at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan.

“If I can’t hack this, I will leave,” he said in Filipino.

Duterte, 71 in many of his speeches, said he entertained thoughts of leaving the presidency.

In the same speech, Duterte reiterated that he is “inclined” to bring back the Philippine National Police into the campaign against illegal drugs.

Amid a public outcry against the police killing of several minors in anti-drug operations, the President put the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in charge of the war on drugs, sidelining the PNP.

“I have not yet signed the executive order but I am inclined to call back the police and (make them) join again the drug war,” the President said.

The Palace earlier said the drug problem could worsen if anti-drug operations are not returned to the PNP, which Duterte once tagged as “corrupt to the core.”

Also on Friday, the Palace accused three United Nations human rights rapporteurs of “bullying” the Philippines after they renewed its calls for the Duterte administration to carry out “prompt, impartial investigations” into the high number of killings that had seen thousands killed since the President took office last year.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque decried what he called “negative assumptions” about the country when it asked the government to thoroughly review its current policy in this regard with a view to stopping further attacks taking place.

“Even as we continue to respect the UN Special Procedures mechanism, we will not allow these biased individuals parading themselves as human rights experts to abuse such a mechanism to bully states by concocting falsehoods,” he said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

“We reiterate that the current administration does not--and will never--condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings and does not tolerate human rights violations.”

“We believe that accountability is an indispensable part of good governance and the President himself made a clear stance that legitimate operations follow protocols.”

On Thursday, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Diego García-Sayán, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, called on the government to protect its population and take effective measures to protect the right to life, in light of the unresolved number of killings under the guise of the anti-drug campaign.

The experts also expressed concern that the exact number of victims was unknown owing to changes in terminology and conflicts in official reporting, and about the limited number of investigations under way.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights made a strongly-worded attack condemning the attacks and threats made by Duterte and his supporters against one of its special rapporteurs.

Callamard had earned Duterte’s ire after saying his bloody drug war should be investigated due to reports of state-sanctioned killings of drug suspects.

According to police statistics, some 3,906 drug personalities had been killed and 113,932 arrested in the government’s war on drugs. Rights groups, however, claim that those killed numbered thousands more.

Senators on Friday said it was the President’s prerogative to bring the PNP back into the drug war.

“Let him pursue that in accordance with his own strategy,” said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

“This is his administration and its declared priority is the all out war against drugs,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said police officials should be more conscious of the consequences of the excesses committed by their men during anti-drug operations.

Senator JV Ejercito also reminded the PNP that Duterte’s “words of strong support” was not a license to go on a killing spree.

He said the PNP should not let the few rotten eggs destroy the reputation of the whole organization. Protection and respect for human rights should be upheld at all times.

But Senators Grace Poe, Vicente Sotto, Franklin Drilon and Sherwin Gatchalian believe the drug operation should stay with PDEA.

Since PDEA is legally mandated to be the country’s primary agency in the anti drug campaign, Poe said it would be ideal if it retained leadership and the PNP lends its full operational muscle to fill up the lack in manpower besetting the drug agency.

“We must not forget that the PNP has been involved in too many controversial operations, thus casting doubt on the organization’s ability to uphold the rule of law and respect basic rights,” said Poe. – 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , illegal drugs , drug on wars
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