BUSTED. An anti-illegal drug operative inspects the PHP16.9 million worth of illegal drugs seized in Quezon City on Nov. 5, 2021. From July 2016 to March 2022, authorities have confiscated PHP88.83 billion worth of illegal drugs nationwide. (Photo courtesy of PNP)

MANILA – Malacañang on Friday welcomed the possibility that President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.  will designate President Rodrigo Duterte as his drug czar.

Acting Deputy Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Undersecretary Michel Kristian Ablan said the Palace sees no hindrance in Duterte leading the Marcos administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“There is no legal impediment for a former president to assume an executive position in the executive branch,” Ablan said in a virtual press conference. “Welcome po iyang balita na iyan dahil si President na mismo ang nagsabi na kailangan pa ring tuluy-tuloy po ang laban sa droga (We welcome that news because the President said the fight against illegal drugs must continue).”

The final decision is up to Duterte who expressed his plan to retire from politics after his presidency, Ablan said.

“Now, whether tatanggapin po iyan ni President Duterte, nasa kaniya na po iyan (it is still up to President Duterte if he would accept the offer). Sa pagkakaalam po namin (As far as we know), the President is looking forward to his retirement,” he said.

On Thursday, Marcos said he is open to tapping Duterte as his government’s anti-drug czar but has yet to offer the post to his predecessor.

Duterte had repeatedly said he hoped that his successor would continue his war on illegal drugs.

In a recent speech, Duterte said he would continue to take a vital role in fighting illegal drugs even beyond his term to ensure peace and order in the country and exhorted Marcos to protect the youth against the menace.

As of March 2022, a total of 14,888 high-value targets have been arrested since the drug war was launched in July 2016, according to the Real Numbers data released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

A total of 336,796 persons were arrested while 6,241 drug suspects died during 233,356 anti-drug operations nationwide.

Authorities have also confiscated PHP88.83 billion worth of illegal drugs across the country, including PHP76.17 billion worth of shabu.

A total of 24,766 of 42,045 villages have been cleared of illegal drugs; 6,575 have been declared drug-free; and 10,704 have yet to be drug-cleared. (PNA)