DILG is reworking the War on Drugs with a ‘whole nation’ approach

The Department of Home Affairs and Local Government is set to launch a new campaign using what it described as a “pan-national” approach against trafficking in illegal substances to bring to justice those behind of the drug threat.

“We need to mobilize support from the grassroots, from the schools, from the community, from the church, from everyone. And that is what we intend to do in our fight against illegal drugs,” said Secretary of the Interior Benjamin Abalos Jr.

Abalos did not disclose details of the campaign, but stressed that to control the spread of illegal drugs, a collective government effort must be applied to identify and eliminate the root causes of the problem such as poverty, crime and other social ills.

The announcement came days after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his administration would “refocus” the war on drugs to include drug treatment and rehabilitation.

“The war on drugs will continue but we have to do it in a different way,” the president said in a TV interview on Tuesday. “Even as we speak, there’s a working group setting up (the reviews) we’re trying to formulate how, what’s the latest and what’s the best way for rehabilitation.”

Mr Marcos said the task force was looking for “the upstream part of the problem, prevention”.

In July, the head of DILG shed light on effective mechanisms to address illicit drug issues, adding that the role of witnesses in assisting cases should be given more prominence.

Abalos mentioned that in most cases investigations are discouraged as there are no witnesses to back up the cases.

The former mayor of Mandaluyong town said that for every confiscated stash of illegal drugs, there should be at least three witnesses: representatives of the media, the justice ministry and barangay officials.

The Home Secretary pledged to maintain the gains of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, fill gaps to improve policies in his agency’s other major programs and “empower the people against the social evils”.

Earlier, Mr Marcos had said the anti-drug task force was looking for “the upstream part of the problem, prevention”.
“All this is being formulated. And then, even on the enforcement side, I’d like to articulate this one,” the president said, noting that the war on drugs was not mentioned in his first state of the nation address because “ it is an internal matter”.

Mr. Marcos previously asked the Philippine National Police Chief, General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., to come up with policies to ensure the anti-narcotics campaign complies with the law.

Azurin ordered an audit of the drug situation in the country, focusing on areas where prominent drug figures have been killed.

He also sought a partnership between the PNP and other government agencies to ensure that the drug supply chain in the country would be “reduced or even completely cut off”.

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