'War on drugs' under Marcos to focus on prevention, rehabilitation

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
'War on drugs' under Marcos to focus on prevention, rehabilitation
In this July 2016 file photo, police officers stand guard as drug dependents and suspected pushers participate in a Zumba dance class as part of a detoxification program at a basketball court in Mandaluyong City.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will sustain the "war" on narcotics but will focus on preventing the use of banned substances and on rehabilitating drug addicts.

Marcos said his administration is eyeing to address the "upstream" of the problem or the prevention side while crafting policies on rehabilitation and law enforcement.  

"The war on drugs will continue but we have to do it in a different way," Marcos said in an interview with vlogger and celebrity Toni Gonzaga aired over All TV on Tuesday.

"Even as we speak, there (is) a working group putting together...They knew war on drugs. We are looking more for the upstream, upstream of the problem, the prevention. Let us teach the children: 'Do not go there. You won't achieve anything. Most of those who went there were either jailed or are now dead. So why would you want that?'" he added.

Marcos said those who are addicted to narcotics should undergo treatment.

"In fact, right now, we are trying to formulate how, what is the latest and what’s the best way for the rehabilitation," the president said.

"And then even on the enforcement side... I’d like to formulate that one," he added.

Marcos' predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, had waged a bloody war on illegal drugs, saying it is necessary to preserve the next generation of Filipinos. Duterte had ordered law enforcers to "destroy" the apparatus of drug traders and to shoot drug offenders if they feel that their lives are in danger.

More than 6,000 drug suspects were acknowledged killed in anti-drug operations during the time of Duterte, alarming human rights advocates who claimed that the crackdown had encouraged summary executions and other abuses.

Duterte has been accused of committing crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court over the deaths tied to his drug war but the former president insists that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the matter.

While Duterte supports the reimposition of death penalty in the Philippines, Marcos admitted that the issue is a "tough one because there is a practical issue and a moral issue involved."

"And the question is, (does) the society have the right to kill its own people? And that’s a tough one to get around," Marcos said.

"And as a practical matter, does the death penalty, actually, does it discourage people from committing heinous crimes? And I think the data, not only from the Philippines but from other countries, shows that we have to be very stringent about applying the law," he added.

Capital punishment was abolished in 2006 under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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