‘Catch bigger fish’ — PBBM

The Philippine National Police was directed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to focus on bigger fish in the enforcement of the government’s anti-drugs campaign.

The Chief Executive said he wanted law enforcement agencies to direct their operations against big-time drug peddlers, noting that the illegal drug trade, in general, would be disrupted if they would be imprisoned.

“To put it very bluntly, I simply told them, ‘Look, I’m not interested in the kid who makes P100 a week selling weed.’ That’s not the person that I want you to go after,” Marcos said during a forum organized by the Asia Society in New York on Friday afternoon.

“I want you to go after people who — if we get them, if we neutralize them, or put them in jail, we put them away, whatever it is — will make an actual difference so that the supply of drugs, the system of distribution, the system of importation of drugs, because much of it really does come from abroad. That will actually make a difference; it will put a stop to it. And that’s what we are working on right now,” he explained.

Marcos admitted that despite the aggressive war on drugs of his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, the drug problem in the Philippines “continues to exist.”

“What we can do is to examine and learn lessons from the experience of the past administration,” he said.

He noted that the enforcement of the drug war by the former administration “only gets you so far.”

“My approach is slightly different. We look at the drug problem in the Philippines, and it is a significant one. There are approximate, I suppose according to official statistics, close to four-and-a-half million actual addicts in the Philippines,” Marcos said.

“And the corrosive effect of that on society, on criminality, on the drug syndicates, etc., even the politicization of the whole drug syndicates — and they are networks — is something that we still have to deal with,” he added.

His administration’s anti-drug war campaign consists not only of enforcement, but prevention and cure as well, he explained.

For prevention, he seeks to educate young people that taking illegal drugs is “a dead end.”

“This will get you absolutely nowhere. It will get you to be put in jail. It will get you killed. And even if it does not do that, this will take away your future,” he said.

For the cure, meanwhile, he said it is being “more sensitive and more sympathetic to those who actually have gotten caught up in this lifestyle.”

“We are trying to learn which are the best methods now to pull our victims — really is what they are — pull them out of that culture, and to help them start again and do live a good life as good and constructive members — contributing members of society,” he stressed.

As of 31 May, a total of 6,252 drug suspects were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations, based to government statistics.

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