MANILA – With the intensified campaign against illegal drugs by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Panfilo Lacson said a drug-free Philippines has now become a possibility.
”It is the only time that, personally, I can see that a drug-free Philippines has now become a possibility because of the momentum and drive of the administration against illegal drugs,” Lacson said in a Senate media interview.
”Never before that we saw more than 100,000 drug users and pushers surrendered and still counting,” the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief added.
Earlier, Lacson had expressed reservation on the move of fellow Senator Leila de Lima to investigate the alleged extra-judicial and summary killings, saying it might break the momentum of the successful anti-illegal drugs campaign.
The senator said the problem of illegal drugs was so widespread that even the remotest barangay (village) is not free from the drug menace.
”Ganoon katalamak, ganoon ka-widespread maski saang sulok ng PH ka pumunta, at tinanong mo local police o kung sinong mayor, ang sinasabing number one problem sa lugar nila talaga illegal drugs,” Lacson said.
Lacson said while he still believes that the police would not resort to extra-judicial killings, the killings involving vigilantes are alarming.
”Kaya lang nakakabahala lang dahil maski sino na lang, pwede pumatay at maski sino pwede mamatay at the hands of vigilantes. I’m not referring to legitimate police operations but yung perpetrated by vigilante groups,” Lacson said.
Lacson has recognized that the shame campaign against the individuals allegedly involved in drugs is gaining positive results.
”If we look at the bigger picture, it seems the results are positive,” he said, specifically referring to Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa who surrendered although his son Kerwin remains at large.
Espinosa admitted that his son, who reportedly altered his appearance through surgery to avoid arrest, is involved in drug dealing.
Nevertheless, Lacson believed that the PNP will violate laws if they will impose ‘shoot on sight’ order intended for the father and son Espinosas.
”If they (PNP) will do that, that’s murder. Kasi shoot on sight nakakita ka ng tao, just because pinagsuspetsahan o dineklara ng pangulo na ito drug lord at kailangang patayin on sight at ginawa talaga mismo ng pulis, yan talaga ay violation of law,” he explained.
Lacson added: “The only justification for killing a person is in self-defense or in defense of a stranger or another person.”
Meanwhile, De Lima said she also believed the ‘shoot on sight’ order can only be justified if “there could be resistance and the subject of operation used force.”
”But per the PNP operational guidelines, that is the last resort – the use of force,” the former Justice secretary said.
De Lima said President Duterte’s style of naming the big personalities linked to drugs was part of the President’s strategy.
”I think it’s part of the strategy – instilling fear, showing resoluteness and determination,” she said. JELLY MUSICO/PNA/northboundasia.com