National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Some of the most criticized programs of the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte are the most important legacies that he will be leaving behind once he steps down on June 30.

In an interview with SMNI News Channel on Saturday night, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, anti-insurgency, and the “Build, Build, Build” are among the highly criticized not only in the country but by international organizations.

He said this is because self-claimed humanitarian groups serving as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) lobbied against these key programs of the government.

“Ang parade kasi ng CPP-NPA parang yung rights violation kung sila ang titirahin samantalang sila naman ang pumapatay, sila ang nanununog ng equipment, sila ang nananakot sa mga tao, kaya ngayon tingnan natin kung kaya ninyong depensahan yung sarili ninyo sa mga provisions ng (This is because the parade of the CPP-NPA, if they will be attacked, it is human rights violations when they are the ones who are killing people, burning equipment, harassing the people, now let’s see how you will defend yourselves against the provisions of the) International Humanitarian Law,” Esperon said.

He added that had not Duterte initiated the drug war, the country would have been a narco-state by now.

This is because when President Duterte assumed office, even high-ranking military personnel are already involved in the illegal drugs trade.

“Kung hindi ginawa ng Pangulo yung ginawa natin tungkol sa anti-illegal drugs, hindi ko alam kung saan tayo pupulutin ngayon. Biro mong meron ng mga police generals na involved noon (If the President did not do what we did against illegal drugs, I don’t know where we would be right now. Imagine there are police generals involved then) and there were so many laboratories and I already saw how drugs have influenced even high ranking officials. Grabe talaga kung napabayaan natin yun (It would have been worse if it has not been addressed),” he said.

Meanwhile, Esperon said the government has been successful in its whole government approach to ending the communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the country through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

The NTF ELCAC earlier said the CPP-NPA-NDF’s 53-year armed struggle has come to an end as more NPA members and cadres have voluntarily returned to the fold of the law.

Esperon said if the CPP-NPA-NDF has no more coercive power, this will translate to better peace and order, especially in the countryside, and investors would start coming in.

“Papasok na yung mga investors at ang mga tao hindi na masyadong naguguluhan, marami tayong development na magagawa. (Investors would come in and the people will have peace, we can do so many development projects.) You could just imagine the contribution of Mindanao for example in the gross domestic product kung meron katahimikan, ganun din sa mga bayan bayan (if there is peace, even in far-flung towns),” he said.

Esperon said the government’s massive “Build, Build, Build” program has seen so many big-ticket infrastructure projects built that would benefit many people even in the countryside.

He also said among the Duterte administration’s accomplishments include the Free Irrigation Law that would benefit the farmers, the free tuition fee in all state universities and colleges, and the improved Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and the Universal Health Care, among others.

The people, he said, are now aware that the true enemy of the country is the CTGs and their front organizations claiming to be the champion of human rights.

“Pinagmamayabang ninyo na kayo ang champion ng human rights, pero sino ba talaga, mga bandido kayo eh, kayo ang gumugulo sa bansa and you are killing people left and right, yung mga development efforts pinipigil ninyo (You are claiming to be the champion of human rights, but the truth is you are the ones killing people left and right, and you are preventing the development of the country),” he said.

“Bistado na kayo, buking na kayo na ang layunin nyo pala ay iba, gusto nyong mapasainyo ang poder, hindi nyo gusto yung kapakanan ng ating mamamayang Pilipino (We have unmasked you, the people now know your real motives, and that is to have the power, and that you are not really after the welfare of the Filipino people)”. (PNA)