MANILA – The House Committee on Public Order and Safety will hold hearings aimed at drafting new laws that would assist President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s administration in pursuing a more successful war against illegal drugs, its chairman said Tuesday.
Rep. Dan Fernandez of the lone district of Santa Rosa, Laguna said this was upon the instruction of House Speaker Martin Romualdez, assuring the Marcos administration that the House committee would be a "close partner" in achieving the goals of the government’s “bloodless war on drugs”.
"President Marcos has demonstrated that a bloodless campaign against illegal drugs can be an effective one. Basta sama-sama dito ang law enforcers, kami sa lehislatura bilang oversight, at syempre ang taumbayan (We are all in this together --the law enforcers, the legislature as oversight, and the citizenry)," Fernandez said. "We will have more success in this campaign for sure."
Fernandez said the government has been hitting its mark, as he commended Marcos for netting over 4.4 tons of shabu valued at PHP30 billion since the administration began on July 1, 2022.
He also cited the recent report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showing a 52 percent drop in the number of deaths in anti-illegal drugs operations under the current administration.
According to PDEA, there were only 19 deaths recorded from July 2022 to September 2023 compared to the 40 fatalities in 2020 to 2021.
Fernandez said the "true endgame" of an effective bloodless anti-illegal drug campaign of the government is the destruction of illegal drugs, adding that it should be tackled on "multiple fronts".
"This war will be easier won if we tackle it in multiple fronts. Our Speaker, Martin Romualdez, knows this fully well. Whole-of-government approach po tayo dito. One agency need not force the issue in addressing the drug war since this administration doesn't view force as the only solution," Fernandez said.
Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, meanwhile, underscored the need to craft legislation that would further improve the abilities of the Philippine National Police and their other counterparts in going after drug lords in the "hope of reducing, if not totally eradicating, this menace" with zero casualty in mind.
Acop said the “bloodless” anti-drug operations would even be more successful as law enforcers launch a reinvigorated campaign, but this time with less casualties.
“The 52 percent significant drop in the number of fatalities, as reported by PDEA, is really a welcome development. For several years, we have been the subject of human rights abuses in this part of the world,” Acop said.
House Dangerous Drug Committee chair and Surigao Del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers said the government's bloodless war shows that the "dragon that is the drug menace" can be slayed without lives being lost.
"Violence, if it can be avoided by our law enforcers in the pursuit of suspects, can result to less anger, resentment, desire for vengeance from our people and will likewise negate attention and condemnation from international watchdog groups,” he said.
Barbers said his committee would determine if legislation is needed to strengthen Marcos’ anti-drug campaign.
“Let us see how we can boost the anti-drug war without resorting to violence, without eliciting anger and resentment from our people, and without drawing global attention and condemnation,” he added.
Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. lauded authorities for a job well done, as he initiated a House probe to dig deeper into why their district in Pampanga was "home to drug operations".
“Our inquiry is in consonance with the bloodless anti-drug campaign of President Marcos which has so far netted a whopping 4.4 tons of shabu worth PHP30 billion since the Chief Executive started his six-year term on July 1 last year (2022),” he said.
The PDEA has also apprehended 64,862 drug suspects, slightly higher compared to 64,143 arrests in the same period from 2020 to 2021.
Last Friday, the PDEA destroyed nearly PHP6 billion worth of dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals at the Integrated Waste Management, Inc. in Barangay Aguado, Trece Martires City, Cavite. (PNA)