MANILA, Philippines – Three ranking members of the House of Representatives justified on Monday, September 19, President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a 6-month extension of his self-imposed deadline to suppress illegal drugs in the country.
Deputy speakers Ferdinand Hernandez and Frederick Abueg, as well as Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Ace Barbers, expressed support for Duterte asking for more time to fulfill his campaign promise to suppress crime and drugs within 3 to 6 months.
“Itong drug war should not be time-bound. In fact, dapat magkaroon tayo ng isang national policy na perpetual. Ibig sabihin, kung hindi na si President Duterte ang nakaupo sa Malacañang eh dapat tuluy-tuloy itong kampanya ng anti-drugs,” said Barbers, who is also the chairperson of the House committee on dangerous drugs.
(The drug war should not be time-bound. In fact, we should have a national policy that is perpetual. This means that when President Duterte is no longer in Malacañang, the anti-drugs campaign will continue.)
“So 'yung 6 months [na extension], wala akong problema dun personally. In fact, kung puwedeng bigyan siya ng extension ng 6 years, mas maganda kasi hindi madali ang laban na ito at hindi ganun kadali matapos ito,” added Barbers.
(So I personally don’t have a problem with the 6-month extension. In fact, if we can extend the campaign up to 6 years, that would be better because this fight is not easy to finish.)
The 3 lawmakers are part of the more than 250-strong House supermajority, whose members are allied with Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.
On September 18, Duterte asked to extend his self-imposed deadline, considering the 700,000 drug users and pushers who had surrendered to authorities, and new and longer list of officials who are involved in the drug trade which he said had been verified.
Since July 1, the death toll has reached 3,173, including those killed in police operations and in vigilante-style attacks. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs’)
The figure includes 1,138 drug personalities killed in police operations as of September 17 and another 2,035 victims of apparent extrajudicial or vigilante killings as of September 14.
According to Hernandez, Duterte’s mandate as President goes beyond his 6-month self-imposed deadline to solve the drug problem.
“As far as we are concerned, if this will not stop in 6 months, but 'yung relentless drive niya, 'yun ang pinakaimportante (but his relentless drive is the most important). And that 6 months extension, that’s even nothing. What’s important is tuloy-tuloy at relentless ‘yung drive against droga (What’s important is that the relentless drive against drugs would continue),” said the lawmaker.
Abueg said that Duterte deserves more time to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people.
“Let’s give him more time. At saka, sama-sama tayo sa campaign na 'to. Sama-sama tayo…. Alam natin sa ating puso, talagang di magiging maganda ang Pilipinas kung 'di natin matitigil ang drugs,” said Abueg.
(Let’s give him more time. We are all working together in this campaign…. We know in our hearts that the Philippines will not improve if we will not stop drugs.)
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa thanked Duterte for extending the deadline on the drug war, saying it would allow law enforcement agencies to finish it properly. – Rappler.com