MANILA – Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. on Thursday said he is not in favor to the proposed decriminalization of drug use by some lawmakers and maintained that it would not help the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

Abalos made the remarks following Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa's proposal to decriminalize the use of illegal drugs to decongest jails and address the problem of drug addiction as a health issue, which was backed by Senator Robin Padilla.

"With due respect, ang giyera na nakikita ko ngayon, hindi makakatulong sa laban namin at hindi makakatulong sa mga bata, dahil nagsisimula yan nang maliliit. Pangalawa, magkakaroon ng technicality yan, ikakalat lang nila nang maliliit sa iba-iba (the war against illegal drugs as I see now, this [proposal] would not help us in our fight and it would not help the youth, since it starts in small-time drug users. Second, there would be a technicality, syndicates will just spread drugs in small quantities to small-time pushers),’’ Abalos said in a radio interview when sought for a comment.

"Sana 'wag na lang. Ako, kung itim, itim; kung puti, puti. Kung bawal, bawal. At para sa akin bawal lahat 'to. Hulihin na lang natin (I hope it does not push through. For me, if it is black, it’s black. If it’s white, it’s white. If it is prohibited, it’s prohibited. And if it’s prohibited, then these are all prohibited. Let us just arrest them),’’ he stressed.

In the same interview, the DILG chief vowed to clean the ranks of law enforcement groups following Dela Rosa’s remarks on the alleged return of so-called ninja cops.

"Matagal na itong mga taong ito na nasa loob maski kanino pang panahon ito. Ang sa akin lang, mangangako ako sa inyo...lilinisin ko ito. Pangako ko po ito (These ninja cops have long been in the ranks in whatever administration. On my part, I will promise to cleanse the ranks. This is my promise),’’ Abalos assured.

Abalos also appealed to the public to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its campaign against illegal drugs.

But despite the involvement of rogue law enforcers in the illegal drug trade, Abalos maintained that the DILG remains ‘on top of this’ situation with the promise of releasing evidence-based information related to the country’s illegal drug woes.

Abalos said a total of 26,544, or 63.13 percent, of all the barangays in the country, have been cleared of drug; 5,987 or 14.24 percent are drug-free, and 538 or 1.28 percent are drug-unaffected.

He also said that 8,977 or 21.35 percent barangays are still drug affected in the country, with 329 being classified as seriously affected; 6,623 as moderately affected; and, 2,635 as slightly affected.

He said that in the 1,710 barangays of Metro Manila, 950 are still drug-affected while 754 are drug-cleared, five are drug-free and one is drug unaffected.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo maintained that the new holistic approach of the police leadership has been effective, following Dela Rosa’s concerns over national security.

“Well, they are entitled to their own opinion, nirerespeto natin (we respect them). But with respect to approach, our approach na ginawa natin nung mga nakaraang taon, ay nag-focus tayo sa (our approach last year is we focused on) supply reduction program at nakita natin yan sa napakaraming hinuli at napakalaking illegal drugs na nakumpiska (and we saw that many were arrested and a quantity of illegal drugs were confiscated),” Fajardo said in a separate radio interview.

“And this time around, nakita natin nagkaroon ng (we saw that there was) review, re-evaluation, and we looked and saw that the demand reduction program was good. Tinitignan natin yung (We also looked) at rehabilitation, reformation and even the education side,” she said.

Regarding the resurgence of “ninja cops,” she said they understand where Dela Rosa is coming from, and even PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. is disappointed with reports of active cops being involved in the drug trade.

However, Fajardo said that the incident should be looked at from the positive side, as the PNP has been conducting an internal cleansing, and the arrest of active cops and members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency by their colleagues is proof that the PNP is flushing them out.

“Bagama't tayo ay nalulungkot, ito pa rin ay tinitingnan natin on a positive note dahil mismong mga kapulisan at mga agents ng PDEA ang nakakahuli sa mga ganitong mga scalawags, at kagaya ng lagi nating sinasabi, hindi naman po itino-tolerate. At bagama't yun ang pahayag ng ating kagalang galang na senador, ay I'm sure naintindihan po niya na bilang dating pulis, na ang PNP leadership naman even during his time ay hindi tumitigil dito sa ating kampanya against illegal drugs (While we are saddened, we are looking at it on a positive note because our own police and PDEA agents are the ones catching these scalawags, and as we always say, we do not tolerate them. While that may be the statement of the good senator, I am sure that he understands that as a former cop, the PNP leadership, even during his time, does not stop in the campaign against illegal drugs),” Fajardo said. (PNA)