February 5, 2023

COURTESY RESIGNATION NOT SOLUTION TO ENTRENCHED ILLEGAL DRUG WOES

To address the deeply entrenched problem on illegal drugs in the country, we reiterate our call and support to the initial plan of the government to focus on eliminating the root of it all – the supply and demand for illegal drugs – and rehabilitation of drug users through convergence of local government units and the civil society.
True, it is easier said than done, and for this we welcome any practical move that will lead to the realization of this goal particularly by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which is leading the new anti-illegal drugs campaign touted to be different from the widely condemned method during the Duterte administration, and will instead be guided by the highest moral principles of respect for human life and dignity.
The DILG, however, needs a lot of convincing to do on how a mass resignation in the Philippine National Police will help stop illegal drugs, revealing who among the police officers and personnel are involved or are protectors of illegal drug syndicates.
This was after Interior Sec. Benhur Abalos, whose agency exercises administrative control over the PNP, called on all colonels and generals to tender their courtesy resignation from their posts as part of DILG’s move to weed out police officers allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Abalos said “the war on drugs will be a difficult battle, especially when your own allies are the ones shooting you from behind.”
We agree, totally. The PNP chief no less supports it, taking the cudgels by being the first to submit to the assessment and evaluation process, with faith the move is geared towards the good of the PNP organization and of the country.
But we have some reservations on the call for mass resignation, as it is unfair for upright officers to be treated in the same manner as those who disgrace the reputation and integrity of the PNP.
Whether it is necessary is questionable. Is there a need for mass resignation when internal cleansing in the PNP ranks could be done through judicial process? Can we trust the five-man committee created and tasked to go through the records of those who will submit their resignation and vet whether the police officials are involved in illegal drugs or not, when a criminal complaint could be filed against whoever in the PNP is suspected for cradling the illegal trade?
We see questions on due process arising from this procedure, when the DILG chief himself admitted his call for resignation was a shortcut of the lengthy judicial process.
How then can we assure due process will be followed and the actual perpetrators are the ones that will be revealed and held responsible?
We understand illegal drugs in the country is a deeply rooted problem that calls for drastic approaches. But it should not be at the expense of proper procedure. We see nothing wrong if we could ever devise a war on illegal drugs strategy that will offer faster results, but not if it becomes another source of abuse yet nothing is being solved.
We should also be reminded the country is still reeling from international condemnation for launching a bloody crackdown against illegal drugs for which nobody has yet been held liable. Worse, illegal drugs remain, and continue to wreck havoc to families and the society after all the bloodshed and promises to run after druglords.
There is no fast and easy way to ending the country’s illegal drug problem – a failed ultimatum to solve it in six months is a proof of it.
We ask the DILG and the Marcos administration to avoid the shortcuts if possible. Rather than asking the PNP hierarchy to resign, we suggest gathering evidence and making a foolproof case in court against protectors of the illegal drug trade in the PNP.
The DILG chief was off to a good start when he said the war on drugs is like a tree, whose roots must be cut off – unemployment, lack of education, and reasons family members turn to illegal drug use. Let us then bring our focus back to the goal of the BIDA advocacy program: stemming supply and demand and reformation and education through multi-sectoral involvement.
Here’s posing a challenge to make the so-called whole of nation of approach work. No shortcuts. Not again, we hope.