Poor, innocent, hapless individuals not target of war on drugs — Palace exec

MalacaAang on Monday allayed public fears over President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs and assured the public that anti-drug operations being carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP) is not targeting the poor, innocent and hapless.

"On the worry of Filipinos about becoming victims of extrajudicial killings, we recognize our people's concern as we assure them that the government's anti-drug operations are not aimed at poor, innocent, hapless individuals," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

The Palace official issued the statement after a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showed that 78 percent of Filipino adults are worried that they or someone they know may become victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) that have become rampant during the anti-drug war.

But Andanar pointed out that "while 78 percent of our people are worried about EJKs, not far from that figure -- 70 percent -- said the Duterte administration is serious in addressing the problem of EJKs."

He reiterated that "extrajudicial killings are not state-sponsored" and denounced riding-in-tandem murders perpetrated by common criminals that were somehow wrongly attributed in news reports as part of police operations.

"Murder is murder. What our authorities are conducting are legitimate police operations that require observance of operational protocols," he stressed.

"Police authorities who violate procedures are made to answer before the law. Suspected drug personalities who resist and fight back with arms have to be dealt with appropriately. The proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances," Andanar said.

According to latest reports, a total 2,124 drug suspects have been killed in police anti-drug operations.

However, another 3,000 individuals were killed by suspected vigilantes usually on board motorcycles.

But despite this worrisome, statistic, the SWS survey reported that 85 percent of the 1,500 respondents polled said that they are satisfied with the Duterte administration's drug war.

He thanked the Filipinos for the trust and said that it is an indication of the success of the anti-drug war.

"The success of the first phase of President Duterte's war against illegal drugs is evident when a great majority (85 percent) of our people -- from the previous third quarter's 84 percent -- remains satisfied with the government's campaign against illegal drugs. Almost nine of ten Filipinos further said that the drug problem in their areas lowered since the President took office on June 30," the senior Palace official said.

"We therefore thank our people for their constant and steadfast support. Rest assured that the Duterte administration respects the law and uphold the basic rights of our people, regardless of beliefs and political persuasions," Andanar said

Source: Philippines News Agency

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