ANN/INQUIRER – Changing the “focus” of the fight against illegal drugs, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said he had told the Philippine National Police (PNP) that he was “not interested” in small-time drug pushers and instructed officials to put more effort into going after big-time narcotics suppliers and distributors.
Marcos said on Friday that he gave the order during a meeting with top PNP officials after he took office on June 30, succeeding Rodrigo Duterte, whose brutal war on drugs is under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.
“It is certainly my view that enforcement, which has been the part of the drug war that has been most vigorously pursued by President Duterte, only gets you so far. And my approach is slightly different,” Marcos told a forum with the Asia Society on Friday at the close of his six-day United States visit.
“(During) my first command conference with our policemen, I said we will adjust. Let us adjust our focus… As to the enforcement, to put it very bluntly, I simply told them, ‘Look I’m not interested in the kid who makes PHP100 a week selling weed’. That’s not the person that I want you to go after,” he said.
“I want you to go after people who, if we get them, if we neutralise them, or put them in jail, we put them away, whatever it is, we 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,” Marcos said.
Duterte’s anti-drug campaign has led to thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings whose victims were mostly impoverished suspected drug pushers and users who were gunned down during police anti-drug operations.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reports that a little over 6,000 people had been killed in the drug war since 2016.
Towards the end of his term, Duterte admitted that he was unable to end the country’s drug problem.
After he won the elections in May, Marcos said Duterte told him to continue the controversial anti-drug campaign.
In an interview with vlogger Toni Gonzaga earlier this month, the President said the war on drugs would continue, but it would be waged in a different manner.
He said there were “working groups putting together the new war on drugs”.
Marcos emphasised measures for drug prevention and rehabilitation of drug addicts.