Isko promises 'drug war' without EJKs

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Isko promises 'drug war' without EJKs
Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno formally launches his campaign for the presidency on September 22, 2021.
Isko Moreno Domagoso Official Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s campaign against illegal drugs, should he win the presidency in 2022, will be done without killings and will recognize human rights, he said.

The presidential candidate on Thursday said he will continue what he has been doing in the Philippine's capital city in the implementation of anti-narcotics operations.

"Eliminating drugs is a priority, but it has to be done in recognition still of every individual’s human rights," Moreno said in a statement. The Duterte administration's "war on drugs" has raised allegations of extrajudicial killings, although the government has been firm that these are not part of state policy.

Moreno added that he does not support the Philippine National Police’s Oplan Tokhang and will never tolerate extrajudicial killings.

The PNP’s Oplan Tokhang — officially police knocking at suspected drug personalities' doors and asking them to surrender — faces a legal challenge at the Supreme Court, while Duterte’s bloody "war on drugs" is under investigation at the International Criminal Court.

"There are no EJKs in Manila. Unless the suspects threatened the lives of our policemen, the suspects were properly apprehended and that their human rights were respected in the process of the entire drug operations," Moreno also said.

The Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency have maintained that supposed drug personalities killed in anti-narcotics operations has violently arrested arrest and had forced law enforcement to shoot them dead.

The "nanlaban" narrative has been questioned at the ICC and at the UN Human Rights Council.  A Department of Justice-led review of "drug war" cases where drug personalities were killed found protocol violations in many operations.

A statement released by Moreno's team recalled that the mayor presented seven drug suspects to media on Tuesday who were all alive and can face the charges that will be filed against them. Moreno also presented 35 arrested drug suspects in August 2019, his office said.

Another presidential aspirant, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., said in an interview earlier on Thursday that he will continue Duterte’s “war on drugs” with the same vigor, but he will approach it differently.

If he wins as president, Marcos said he will also focus on prevention, educating the youth of the ill-effects of drugs and improving rehabilitation centers.

2020: 'A 'for Duterte's effort in confronting drug problem

In a January 2020 interview with ANC’s "Headstart", Moreno acknowledged Duterte’s “effort” for confronting the drug issue on its face.

"I think with that you have to give an 'A' for the effort. That is not a joke, the problem with drugs is deeply entrenched," he said partly in Filipino.

When asked if he agrees with the criticism of Vice President Leni Robredo—who is facing off with Moreno in the 2022 polls—on Duterte’s "war on drugs", he deflected and said he believes that he is in no position to comment.

"I am nobody to assess everything especially if I don't have the entire picture of the problem. Because it is quite unfair for the effort that [is] being done because nobody tried to confront this except President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," Moreno answered then.

At the time, Robredo noted that in the three years of the anti-drugs campaign and after thousands of killings, the government had only seized less than one percent of the amount of drugs estimated to be in the country.

Moreno said Robredo’s claim may have been demoralizing to law enforcement officers.

"Unfair naman yun sa mga enforcement unit who are putting their lives on the line confronting this ready-to-kill individual. They’re willing…. These are the things that you really they to be very careful with this type of statement because it might demoralize the enforcement unit because we have to give value also to their effort," Moreno added.

In an earlier interview, Moreno said he will "not lift a finger" to protect Duterte if he wins the electoral race next year and the International Criminal Court probe into the "drug war" happens during his term.

He had also said he will not prevent international probers from coming to the country to look into Duterte’s "drug war."


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