By Filane Mikee Cervantes

RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH. National Police Commission vice chairperson and executive officer Alberto Bernardo assures the House Committee on Human Rights that the approach of the Marcos administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign is “rights-based” during a hearing on Wednesday (June 5, 2024). Bernardo said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directive is to focus on supply and demand reduction efforts, as well as rehabilitation to address the country’s drug problem. (Screengrab)

MANILA – National Police Commission (Napolcom) vice chairperson and executive officer Alberto Bernardo on Wednesday emphasized the approach of the current administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign is human-rights based.

Wala na kaming drug war na tinatawag. Purely, anti-illegal drug campaign lang, law enforcement function para rights-based po. Kaya onward po, iba na po yung modalities natin sa law enforcement (We no longer have a thing called drug war. This is purely an anti-illegal drug campaign that is [centered on the] law enforcement function so that it is rights-based. Moving onward, we now have different modalities in law enforcement),” Bernardo said during the House hearing into the alleged extrajudicial killings (EJK) associated with the controversial war on drugs during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Bernardo told lawmakers that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive is to focus on supply and demand reduction efforts, as well as rehabilitation.

Gaya po ng habilin ng ating Pangulo na kumbaga nasa rehabilitation, nasa supply reduction strategy na po kami (As per the President’s directive, we are now [focused] on the rehabilitation and supply reduction strategy),” he said.

Bernardo assured the House Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., that Napolcom will do its best to “prevent the recurrence of mistakes” in anti-illegal drugs efforts.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno revealed during the hearing that the 2017 year-end report of the Office of the President (OP) under the Duterte administration listed a total of 20,322 drug-war-related deaths from July 1, 2016 to November 27, 2017.

On the other hand, from July 2022 to December 2023, the government under the Marcos administration has already conducted 36,803 anti-illegal drug operations, resulting in the arrest of 49,700 drug personalities including the 3,284 “high-value targets”, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

Of the number of arrested illegal drug suspects, the government has already filed 47,516 illegal drug charges with 28,302 cases resolved: 22,201 or 78.44 percent resulted in conviction while 2,427 or 8.58 percent resulted in dismissal, and 3,674 or 12.98 percent resulted in acquittal.

Meanwhile, at least 314,917 drug dependents underwent the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program.

Government records also showed that 28,243 or 67.24 percent of barangays nationwide are declared drug-cleared; 6,127 or 14.59 percent as drug-free; and 363 or 0.86 percent are drug-affected; while 7,268, or 17.30 percent have yet to be cleared.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also reported that the Marcos administration’s campaign against illegal drugs resulted in the seizure of almost PHP32 billion worth of illegal narcotics from July 1, 2022 to April 21, 2024. (PNA)