Drug-free Philippines almost impossible now—Sotto

By: Darryl John Esguerra - Inquirer.net | October 08,2019 - 12:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday the Philippines should aspire to become a “drug-resistant” nation because being a “drug-free” country is almost impossible now given the severity of the drug menace.

Sotto said government has been unsuccessful in addressing the “demand” aspect of the war against drugs even as the current administration has employed a relentless crackdown on illegal narcotics that has so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of drug suspects across the country.

“We have to look at the possibility of being a drug-resistant country instead of (being) a drug-free. That drug-free (aspiration) at this point is almost impossible because we have not been successful in the other half of the fight which is the demand-reduction strategy,” Sotto told reporters in a forum at the Manila Hotel.

The Senate leader insisted that even if government succeeds in weeding out drug pushers in the country, they will only be replaced by new ones as long as there are “drug-dependent” Filipinos.

“The supply reduction program is being enforced by the government but as I’ve said if there’s a demand even if you kill all the pushers in the country today, there will be new pushers tomorrow. They will be replaced by another pusher because there is a demand so there must be a holistic approach,” he said.

Sotto also reiterated that his Senate Bill No. 3, which proposes to create a Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency (PRDEA), will be an “upgrade” in the country’s fight against illegal drugs.

Under Sotto’s bill, the PRDEA shall primarily be the supervising agency for the proper, more effective and efficient implementation of the country’s anti-drug law or Republic Act. No. 9165.

The proposed agency will “absorb the policy-making and strategy-formulating functions of the current Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).”

As the PDEA will be abolished under the measure, its powers will be exercised by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

But the PDEA and the DDB have already expressed opposition against Sotto’s proposal. /muf

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