Former solon urge gov’t to implement comprehensive anti-drug campaign

Jul. 24, 2016

Raymond Palatino_Brokenshire

Former Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino urges the government to have a comprehensive anti illegal drugs campaign that will involve the community. (Medel V. Hernani/

DAVAO CITY—  While the people’s support for the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is “overwhelming”, some leaders are proposing that the government should implement a more comprehensive approach on the anti-drugs campaign.

Former Kabataan Partylist lawmaker Raymond Palatino, who is now chairperson of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at the National Capital Region, said “the overwhelming sentiment of the people is that they support the war on drugs.”

“However, there is a disagreement on the tactics and methods on how it is being carried out,” Palatino told Davao Today in an interview at the Brokenshire Hospital in Madapo Hills here.

“Hindi kami pabor sa summary killings, extrajudicial killings, dapat may due process (We are not in favor of summary killings, extrajudicial killings. There should be due process),” said Palatino.

Palatino said they want to see a more comprehensive campaign on the war on drugs. He said the tactic now is a visible “militarist approach.” In the Inquirer’s Kill List, there are already 331 documented dead since June 30, the  date of President Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration.

“On one hand, it’s not really a problem if it could help to discipline, and scare drug pushers, drug lords. But it is also powerful if the President will inspire, not only the police force, but the whole community to make it like a social movement, people’s movement against drugs,” he said.

He said the people from the community may be consulted to identify “what are problems in the community, why are some using drugs, why is there no job.”

“That can also be categorized as part of the anti drug campaign,” he said.


Chilling message

Meanwhile, Fr. Rex Reyes, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said the problem on illegal drugs in the country should be resolved, but the rising numbers of suspected drug-related persons killed “sends an alarming, chilling message.”

“They have already been alleged as drug users, then they are killed,” he said.

Reyes also said the government should look into the treatment of suspected drug-related personalities as the anti-drugs campaign “sends a message of double standard.”

“Those who live in urban poor areas are killed outright. The reason that they are killed is that fought and resisted arrest,” he said.


‘Tactic in drug campaign may target activists’

Reyes said he fears that this could be used as a justification to kill civilians in non-related drug issues.

“It could be used as a means to get back. It could be used to justify to run after activists and simply say –well, they are drug users,” he said.

“My imagination may be running wild, but it’s not very far from the kind of situation,” said Reyes.

Reyes said: “It could be used as a witch hunt for anybody given that the statement of the President is enough to encourage other groups, aside from the police. So it could lead towards a situation of lawlessness which is not good.”

Palatino echoed the same sentiments saying the argument that one is a drug pusher “can be used to killed activists.”

“Sabihin natin na sige may intelligence na talagang mga drug lords at drug pusher pero what if in the future yan ang gamiting argument para patayin ang mga aktibista, mga opposition figures sa community, mga tribal leaders, napakadaling gawin yun eh (What if the argument that the person killed is a drug pusher can be used to kill activists, opposition figures in the community, tribal leaders? That is so easy to do),” he said.


People’s agenda for change

Palatino said, in the long term the people’s agenda for change, which the progressive organizations presented to Duterte during his inauguration in Malacañan, “is the best solution to the country’s drug problem.”

“If you have industries, jobs in the communities, in the provinces, in cities, people will not join the drug trade. The poor will not be drug pushers, drug mules,” he said.

“The solution to petty crimes, criminality in the community, or how to make the streets safer is to implement the people’s agenda for change,” said Palatino.

The “People’s Agenda for Change” focused on five points which are economic development, good governance and the fight against corruption, social policy, peace and human rights, and foreign policy.

The militant groups urged Duterte to implement national industrialization of strategic industries; genuine agrarian reform; budget increase in basic social services including education and health; enactment of pension hike for Social Security System (SSS) pensioners; better services for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs);  promotion of the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the cessation of militarization in indigenous communities, among others. (

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