MANILA - Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to re-launch the war on drugs, a month after the president ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stand down from the campaign.
Cayetano claimed that the drug trade has come back out of the shadows after Duterte halted anti-drug operations under the PNP's "Oplan Tokhang." "Alam n'yo po, itong 2 linggo na nakalipas, anong sabi sa akin? 'Sir, simula noong sinabing sinuspinde ang Tokhang, maraming pusher ang bumalik," the senator said at a vigil-rally in support of the Duterte administration at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.
(These past 2 weeks, I've been told, 'Sir, ever since Tokhang was suspended, a lot of drug pushers have returned) "Totoo ba? Sa inyong lugar, bumalik ba 'yung mga pusher?" he then asked the crowd, drawing shouts of agreement. (Is it true? Have pushers returned to your areas?)
Cayetano continued, "'Pag bumalik ang mga pusher, kasunod na n'yan ang patayan ng inosente, kasama na d'yan ang rape, ang nakawan.
"Kaya ngayong gabi, ako ay nakikiusap sa ating Pangulo at sa PNP: i-relaunch ninyo ang inyong anti-drug drive." (If drug pushers return, the killing of innocent people will come next, as well as rape and robbery.
So tonight, I am pleading with our President and the PNP: relaunch your anti-drug drive.) More than 7,000 people have been killed since Duterte was sworn in almost eight months ago, about 2,500 of whom were killed in official police anti-narcotics operations.
Human rights groups believe many of the others were extra-judicial executions committed as part of the war on drugs, and in cooperation with the police – a claim the Duterte administration has repeatedly denied.
Duterte in late January instructed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to take over the drugs crackdown, with support from the military, after policemen were tagged in the abduction and murder of a South Korean businessman.
Cayetano, defeated running mate of Duterte in the May elections, sought to downplay the drug-related killings during Saturday's vigil rally. "Grabe na ang patayan dati pa. Kaya lang, noong araw, ang napapatay 'yung mga inosente.
Ngayon, ang napapatay ay 'yung mga lumalaban sa pulis na mga pusher," he said. (The killings before were already bad. It just that before, those killed were innocent. Now, those being slain are drug pushers who fight policemen.)
Citing DOJ documents, the senator claimed that there were 10,000 to 14,000 extra-judicial killings every year under the previous Aquino administration.
EJKs, he said, should include only those connected to an ideology, as defined by Administrative Order No. 35. "Ang sabi po doon, kapag hindi ideology, hindi labor leader, hindi pari o madre, hindi aktibista ang napatay, hindi extra-judicial killing iyun. Ibig sabihin, kapag pusher, o kapwa pusher ang nagpatayan, hindi extra-judicial killing," he said.
(It says if the killing is not connected to an ideology, if the victim is not a labor leader, not a priest or nun, nor an activist, it's not an extrajudicial killing. It means if a pusher is killed, or if pushers killed each other, it's not an extra-judicial killing.) Cayetano ended his speech with a plea for the public to continue supporting Duterte and his programs.