By Genalyn D. Kabiling
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte intends to award agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) with medals if they can effectively contain the drug menace in the country.
The President made the commitment after saying that he was adopting a wait-and-see attitude on the performance of the PDEA, which has taken over the police force in the lead role in the anti-drug operations.
“Kung totoo ‘yung sinasabi nila na it can improve the overall picture ng law and order kung wala ang pulis, tingnan natin (If it is true that it can improve the overall picture of law and order without the police, let’s see),” the President said upon arrival in Davao City last Tuesday night after his visit to Japan.
“Eh kung maganda na ang labas ng sitwasyon (and) the events turn out to be good, then bigyan ko sila medalya. Marami ako diyan sa — noong Mayor pa ako na hindi ko nagamit. Ipatunaw ko lang ‘yang huli, tapos change the emblem and — the logo, rather — and I’ll award them with medals (If the situation, the events turn out to be good then I will give them medals. I have many medals, which were not used when I was a mayor. I’ll melt the old ones, then change the emblem, the logo rather, and I’ll award them with medals),” he added.
At present, the President said he was trying to “gauge the situation” amid the anti-drug operations being undertaken by the PDEA.
But he did acknowledge that “PDEA has a very limited human resource, the warm bodies, there.”
If the country’s drug situation will worsen, the President plans to ask the human rights groups about their alternative proposal to deal with the problem.
“If it’s worsened, tingnan natin. Then, sabihin ko, mag-petition muna tayo doon sa Human Rights kung anong magagawa nila [If it worsens, let’s see. Then I’ll say, let’s petition the human rights about what they can do],” he said.
“If there is an increase of supply, there is an increase of addicts, then the first thing that we will hear, mga human rights, ano ho ngayong matutulong nito sa sitwasyon? [the human rights, what assistance can you offer in this situation?],” he added.
The President added he plans to meet with PDEA chief Aaron Aquino to know the status of the government’s anti-drug efforts.
“As of now, I have not talked with the PDEA. But I will, maybe, ask a separate meeting with him. Kay Aaron. General Aaron Aquino. He used to be a Davao boy. He earned his spurs here in Davao,” he said.
The President recently designated PDEA as the lead agency to conduct anti-drug operations to appease foreign and local groups which have criticized the alleged soaring extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses.
But he has hinted that the police force could also be brought back to fight the drugs war depending on the performance of the PDEA in the next six months.
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