WAR ON DRUGS
As the Duterte Administration ramps up its war against illegal drug traffickers, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma re-echoed the Church’s call to stop the killings and follow due process.
“We, bishops, agree on the campaign against illegal drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte. I respect him as president. But I still cling to what we believe that killing (drug suspects) is not the solution to the problem,” he told reporters in an interview at his residence in Cebu City on Tuesday.
Instead of neutralizing drug suspects, the 67-year-old prelate advised law enforcers to let the law take its due course.
“The rule of law is difficult (to adhere to) and yet it is humane. We should follow the procedure in apprehending suspects and then bring them to the court,” Palma said.
Palma made his statement after President Duterte vowed to continue the relentless war on drugs in last Monday’s visit to Cebu.
Speaking to mayors from the Visayas and Mindanao, President Duterte emphasized anew his goal to get rid of corruption and illegal drugs, which he said, continue ruin the country.
“I am not the kind of dictator that some wanted to portray. If I don’t dictate and allow everybody to implement the law in their sweet time, no one is moving,” he said.
President Duterte said the war on drugs will continue to save the country from further deterioration.
He said 40 percent of the total barangays in the country are contaminated with illegal drugs, while 9,000 barangay captains are reportedly into illegal drugs.
“We’re deteriorating because of illegal drugs. It’s getting to be very uncomfortable. We can make this nation, not really that great, but at least a comfortable country for all. The problem is illegal drugs,” he said.
President Duterte took a swipe at agencies that criticize his policies, particularly leaders of the Catholic Church.
“Magtayo na lang tayo ng Iglesia ni Duterte. Walang bawal. Limang asawa? Sige. (Let us just create an Iglesia ni Duterte. There will shall be no prohibitions. If you want five wives? Fine),” he said.
President Duterte called on the police to continue going after those involved in the illegal drugs trade as he promised them his full support.
“I take full responsibility of the drug campaign results whether intended or not. It is my sole, singular responsibility and I will answer alone. Because I ordered it, I will take full responsibility,” he said.
“I am building a country, and I will kill anyone who destroys it. I am already old. I already have enough of accolades and applause. I don’t need them. My dreams have happened,” he said.
During his Cebu visit, President Duterte also awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu to PO2 Aristeo Tampus in simple rites at the Camp Sergio Osmeña Headquarters of the Police Regional Office (PRO-7).
Tampus, who got wounded but managed to shoot down a drug suspect during a drug bust in San Fernando town, Cebu, said he didn’t expect President Duterte to give him the award personally.
“I cannot explain how I felt on meeting the President personally and receiving an award from him,” Tampus said.
He also received a P100,000 cash award and one .45 pistol from the President. /With a report from Correspondent Benjie Talisic