Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Success of Duterte presidency hinges on solving drug menace

He will consider his presidency a “total failure” if the drug menace persists after the end of his term, President Duterte said on Monday.

Stamping out the drug problem is a campaign promise that catapulted him to a landslide win three years ago. Duterte, whose brutal war on narcotics has left more than 5,000 drug suspects dead, said drug trafficking has become a “big problem” that threatens the future of the next generation.

“It is a big problem. I’m trying to save the next generation. I’m not saying I’m the savior but I’m the President now. If I fail to control drugs by the time the graduating college students become fathers or mothers, they would have a problem,” Duterte said during his visit to earthquake survivors in Digos City, Davao del Sur last Monday. “If we cannot control the flow of drugs, then I will consider my presidency a total failure. So I don’t want that to happen. Do not do it,” he added.

When he was still running for president, Duterte vowed to put an end to illegal drugs within the first six months of his term. He eventually admitted that the promise was not doable because of the involvement of several government officials in the sale and distribution of narcotics.

Duterte previously claimed that he had underestimated the extent of the problem and promised to sustain the crackdown on drug syndicates until he steps down in 2022. While the drug war remains popular among Filipinos, at least based on surveys – 79 percent of respondents satisfied with the campaign, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey – human rights groups claim that Duterte’s directive to kill drug lords has emboldened police officers to execute suspects.

Officials have claimed that the administration does not condone extrajudicial killings and that law enforcers only use force if suspects fight back. Duterte was unfazed by criticisms against his campaign as he reiterated that death awaits local officials and policemen who are into narcotics.

“I am warning you again, be it the police, the mayors or the barangay captains: you will die. If you get involved in drugs, there is no other way to deal with you, except to kill you,” the President said during his visit to earthquake survivors in M’lang, North Cotabato last Monday.

Duterte accused human rights groups of putting too much emphasis on the number of slain drug suspects and ignoring the social impact of drug addiction. “Human rights (advocates) only commit human wrongs... They just count the number of dead people in funeral homes. For me, it’s a social problem that is the result of the use of drugs,” he said.