There are now nearly 60,000 drug dependents who have voluntarily surrendered to authorities, according to Malacañang Palace. The announcement was made this Thursday, July 14, merely two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath last July 1. The figure was said to be due to the intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
“We have to seize the momentum. The voluntary surrender of thousands of self-confessed users and pushers reaffirms our people’s renewed faith and trust in authorities. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a press release, noting that the president’s campaign has united Filipinos in fighting illegal drugs.
“Government is against any form of extra judicial killings. We do not condone these acts. Government is here to save our people from the drug menace and punish the offenders, including the big-time ones. The PNP continues to investigate situations involving vigilante killings and operational aspects where deaths are reported,” Secretary Andanar stressed out.
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The PCOO secretary is referring to news reports where the drug suspects were said to have fought back leaving the police with no choice but to fire back and kill them. This led the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to start investigating some of the cases. Sen. Leila de Lima, who is also a former Justice secretary, proposed a Senate probe on this issie.
In line with this, Andanar admitted that the existing campaign against drugs is far from perfect. However, he noted that it has already saved thousands of Filipinos, adding that many communities are now relatively drug-free because of the increasing number of self-confessed drug suspects across the country who decided to surrender to avoid being killed.
Nonetheless, the lack of drug rehabilitation centers is becoming a problem. As a solution, the Duterte administration has plans of building regional rehabilitation centers to accommodate drug users. For residents in Central Luzon, the PNP is looking into the possibility of building one in Subic and another in Clark.