Press Release
October 12, 2017

*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on PDEA taking the lead in the government's anti-drug campaign

The plan by President Rodrigo Duterte to let the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lead the government's anti-drug campaign is not new. The PDEA has the primary mandate to push for efficient law enforcement in the fight against illegal drugs.

However, unless the government's current anti-drug strategy is radically overhauled and the country's security forces are thoroughly cleansed of scalawags, whether it is the PDEA or PNP, the anti-drug campaign will continue to be bloody, abusive and prone to corruption.

Hindi lang implementers ang may problema. Mas lalo na ang polisiya. Tokhang under the PDEA would still be Tokhang.

Instead of a mere changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign, what is needed is for Oplan Tokhang to be stopped and scrapped.

"Alternative drug law enforcement strategy"

As an alternative to Oplan Tokhang, the government must implement a "rules-based and modern drug law enforcement strategy" to address the country's drug problem. The authorities must bring the campaign to the big-time drug lords instead of simply targeting the poor. Our authorities must focus on crimes associated with big drug operations, such as money laundering and extortion. The government must also strengthen border control at international airports and seaports and heighten operations against cross-country narco trafficking.

"Public health approach"

I also call on the government to strengthen its public health approach to the drug problem. The government must provide a comprehensive public health approach to the country's drug policy and establish appropriate barangay-based programs and services for drug-related issues and concerns. I reiterate, more than a peace and order concern, the drug problem is a fundamental health issue.

"Reallocate Tokhang budget to PNP provident fund"

As to the P 900 Million budget of the PNP for Oplan Tokhang, I will move for its reallocation to other important programs such as augmenting the provident fund of our rank-and-file police personnel, and their capability enhancement program.

Lastly, I will see to it that the investigation of the cases of extrajudicial killings that happened during the time of PNP-led Tokhang will push through. Just because there is a changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign doesn't mean that we've also had a change of heart in our pursuit of truth, justice and accountability. It's deplorable that the government is tweaking its anti-drug campaign to simply address President Duterte's declining public satisfaction and trust ratings. It seems that the government has high regard for survey results but not for people's lives. We will not allow this government to sweep under the rug the atrocities of its bloody drug war.

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