Greater respect for human life

THE latest survey report from Pulse Asia last Monday said 88 percent expressed support for the government’s war on drugs, but 73 percent also said they believe there have been extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in the police operations. 

The other survey organization, Social Weather Stations, had 77 percent of its respondents expressing satisfaction with the campaign. The SWS also said satisfaction with President Duterte’s performance remained high at 75 percent.

It is evident from these figures that the nation continues to support the anti-drugs campaign of President Duterte and that it continues to hold him in high regard. But it has some serious reservations about the way the Philippine National Police (PNP) had been carrying out the campaign, specifically the killings in disregard of established police procedures and the rule of law. The PNP has insisted that all its operations have been above-board. But the public believes otherwise, as shown by the Pulse Asia finding that 73 percent think here have been unwarranted killings.

President Duterte himself must have had some reservations about the PNP record. He has pulled the PNP out of the anti-drug campaign and assigned the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) to lead it instead. With only about 1,800 men, however, PDEA does not have the personnel or the resources to carry on the nationwide campaign; it will have to call for support from the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other enforcement agencies of the government.

The PNP, in the meantime, will concentrate on its anti-crime campaign, particularly the many killings lately carried out by men riding motorcycles in tandem. It also has to clean up its ranks of so-called “scalawags” who have given it a bad name.

Sen. Grace Poe, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, noted recently that the PNP has an Internal Affairs Service (IAS) which is supposed to handle the work of weeding out misfits from the service. But it is seriously “ill equipped and undermanned,” she said. The IAS, she said, has only 22 lawyers to handle the cases of 1,850 men being probed for possible violations of procedures in the anti-drug operations. She proposed an increase in its R138.5-million budget so it can hire more men and acquire more equipment such as computers and cars.

The anti-drug campaign will go on; it has the support of the people, as seen in the recent survey results. But the campaign should proceed with utmost concern for legal procedures and with greater respect for human life and for human rights.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Online

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